I have never watched American Idol, but apparently many Americans have. I think I know someone whose cousin was called back from the area try-outs. Many Americans do. It’s fun stuff. My daughter is vastly interested in up-and-coming vocal talent and fame, so I was lured into the world of The Voice vicariously by her. When Jordan Smith won last year, in the following days I was enthralled by his talent as I watched his songs on Youtube. God was being praised, prime time! It was awesome! I knew of Jordan’s coup-d-etat secondhand, but that fact that I knew who he was is another victory that he probably could not understand or appreciate.
Now Christina Grimmie’s name recognition surpasses all of those who have come before her on The Voice. Many parents who have children in their early 20’s are hurting. Like them, I am sober; for The Grimmie Family and their tragic loss, and with painful gratitude that our sweet daughters and sons have their lives ahead of them to stand tall in their faith for Jesus.
We Christians watch our celebrity representation with microscopes. Justin Bieber’s recent boldness as he tweets about God and His love have thrilled His Christian followers, much more than his top ten hits have. We long to be represented by people who are relevant and who are viewed by society as winners. We are triumphant when someone chooses Jesus over all else that lures, and then is brave enough to face down Hollywood and social media unapologetically to say “I believe differently.” The truth is that this is rare. It is rare because it is hard to take a stand when all of hell is trying to keep you down.
Justin Bieber’s recent boldness as he tweets about God and His love have thrilled His Christian followers, much more than his top ten hits have.
Prior to that, my The Voice-devoted daughter had mentioned her respect for Christina’s humility and solid Christian faith. Her early youtube videos had caught my daughter’s attention and she had followed her success. Her death this weekend by the hands of an assassin after a concert hit our family and made us think. A lot.
I was reading Christina’s online biography yesterday, fascinated by the stand that this young lady had taken at such a young age. Her brother said of his “baby sister,” that “She loved the Lord and her family and was always there for me and I honestly don't know what ill do without her." As I viewed her many photos, I kept catching glimpses of a tattoo that she had on her arm. When I was able to read it, her message had more significance than she could have appreciated when she sat through it’s permanent etching; “All is vanity.”
Imagine that Christina would lose her life just a few miles away from, and a few hours earlier than, the largest mass murder scene in American History. What did Christina want to do for Jesus with her life? What has she done for Jesus with her life? Certainly, without Jesus, all is vanity. But her awareness of that fact kept her giving Him public attention. She said His name. On youtube. Regularly. And with this very public, permanent statement, she has taken a verse from Ecclesiastes, said to be her favorite book in the Bible, and has reminded us of something. She has told us how important it for us to be grounded in the eternally important truth that there is meaning and purpose because of Jesus.
Christina’s tattoo had more significance than she could have appreciated when she sat through it’s permanent etching;
“All is vanity.”
Though Christians have had an impressive representation on televised vocal competitions over time, not all of us are headed for hype, extravagantly-lit stages and backup singers. (If you are, God bless you and keep your eyes on Him!) But we are all called to love. This is what will change the world. They will know we are Christians by our love (see John 13:35). True peace is found through our adoption into God’s family, though Jesus.
I was in New England for a week last year and was surprised that only one Christian radio station came through my radio. As I drove around, I happened to catch a fire-and-brimstone message, organ music introduction and all. That was it. That was what everyone who lived within that station's signal had the potential of hearing about God that half hour. In a free country. How could that be? The message was truth. But it was part of the truth. Where was the love? What or who would draw all people within that station's sphere of influence to Jesus?
I live in the New York City area, and we have a Christian radio station that has some auditory color. And gimmicks. I see gimmicks as they are meant to be because I teach Marketing. Every now and then, I see marketing effectively overlap with ministry. Praise God! I really like their recent marketing gimmick, because it is more than a gimmick. It is truth. And the truth sets you free (see John 8:32). Bumper stickers, postcards, DJs and a chirpy and melodic jingle all proclaim “You are loved.”
The reality is that there are people driving around New York City and the surrounding area every day who don’t know that they are loved. Even if I forgo Christian radio and an opportunity for peppy praise on a short drive (Graham Cooke sometimes wins out), I love Christian radio because it puts Jesus’ message out there for people to tune into when it is needed. It is an amazing tool and I know people whose lives have been changed because the message was there at critical moments in their lives.
The reality is that there are people driving around New York City and the surrounding area every day who don’t know that they are loved.
I drove away, glancing in my rearview mirror, and I felt wonderful! It would be hard to spend $5.35 on anything that would ensure a kick like I got out of paying for a stranger’s coffee. If the stranger was 10% as blessed as I was, it was worth it. I can see why the campaign continues on the radio. Are there coffee converts? Maybe. But it’s awesome to see Jesus get credit for something good. As Christians, we really need to work on that type of thing happening much more. We need to take these little chances to maybe make a difference, for Jesus.
God uses celebrities. But He also uses us regular people.
Why bring this up when our country is going through such a tragedy? Because our country is going through a tragedy. Jordan Smith and Christina Grimmie fought upstream to say they were Jesus fans in a public venue. God uses celebrities. But He also uses us regular people. I am not saying that we will win the world over to Him by buying them coffees. I am saying that buying strangers coffees may be one of hundreds of strategies that God gives us to choose from in order to represent Him and His goodness and love. If a lot of us do little things, we will flood the market. It’s a good time to flood the market with kindness and caring. And the secular world actually stole the random acts of kindness thing from God. I had it reversed.
We can combat evil with prayer, and we can combat evil with love. It is a hurting world. As I think of the pain that is coming out of Florida right now, I pray for the ministries that are saturating the area with support and hope. New Jersey is 1,000 miles from Florida, but we have all been hit. May God use what the enemy intended for harm to draw people to Him. May you hear His voice as He uses you as part of His plan.