American Idol was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last Friday for tryouts. They parked their bus, ironically enough, directly in front of the oldest church in the city, in the center of the Old Town district. (Photos of the bus and contestants may be seen on my Facebook pages, The Son-Day Posts and Enchanted Imaging). Two symbols of idolatry, if I may use that word for the church, together. One symbol of fleeting, hard to obtain worldly success, and the other of eternal salvation and safety. The contestants I spoke with were hopeful that they were good enough artists to pass through to the next stage, and ultimately to win this year’s competition. Not everyone can win, nor do well enough to be notices by talent scouts and record labels. There were a lot of disappointed people. Like the words in the Judy Collins song, “Well, maybe next year”.
Some do win and enjoy huge success. Carrie Underwood comes to mind, but there are many others. And there is nothing wrong with success itself. It is a good thing to be successful in this life. American Idol has helped a multitude of aspiring singers to successful careers. The lynch pin is how the individual defines success. Worldly success as found by winning American Idol is fleeting. It can also be lost quickly if the artist makes a mistake in judgement and loses his or her fan base. People change favorites. This type of behavior is seen constantly on Wall Street, where the price of a stock will drop dramatically or rise swiftly, not on any solid basis, but on the mass perception of the stock’s value. If the public perception of a star’s value to them drops, the star becomes a has been almost over night.
The star’s success is of no real value to the fans. They gain nothing of significance by making a star one of their idols, the people they follow and spend money on by buying the music. They feel happy when listening to the songs, but that ends when the music is over. That is why some people have their ears plugged into music almost constantly. And, there is nothing wrong with listening to music per se, just listening to music that advocates sinful behavior like doing violence to the police or denigrating women or certain classes of people. But listening to music in itself is fine. The Bible speaks of making a joyful noise to the Lord. If you heard me singing in church you’d most likely agree that I am doing just that-making a joyful noise.
The problem arises when two things are done: The star getting too full of his or her self due to the success, and by the fans putting too much emphasis on the star’s importance. When success becomes a star’s sole purpose in life awareness of and concern for their eternal wellbeing is lost. When a star becomes all important to a fan God is devalued. A mistaken perception of value controls the fan’s thinking. The old expression that seeing is believing is a misnomer, as Los Vegas magicians aptly prove every day. Seeing an illusion is not seeing reality. It is not the truth. And fans placing a high value on a star is valuing an illusion. Stars are talented people who deserve success, but they can’t save your soul from Satan’s grasp. Only Jesus Christ can do that.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. Accepting Christ as your Savior is the only way to be with God in eternity and to avoid the horrors of hell. God so loves you that He sent Jesus into this world to die on the cross for your sins, so that you may be with Him for eternity. There is no other process, nor any other “idol” that can do that for you. Seeing through the illusion of the material here and now is crucial to your eternal well being. The primary Person, or “Idol” in your life must be Jesus Christ if you want to enter heaven and be with Him forever. Again, no one comes to God the Father except through Christ.
Non-Christians can’t fully understand the joys of living in Christ, He in you and you in Him. He said not to look near nor far for the kingdom of God, because the kingdom is within you as a Christian. God isn’t sitting on some far away cloud. Heaven isn’t some nebulous spiritual realm. Christ and the Holy Spirit live inside of Christians, and by extension so does the Father. God makes up the third part of the trinity of man. Previous blogs explain this in more detail, but for the understanding of new readers and to keep this article in context for them, I’ll briefly explain what being made in the image of God means. Genesis says that God made man in His image. God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit who had a body in this world for about 33 years. Man was created with a soul and spirit, and a body for the duration of life on this planet. But that’s not a complete image of God. You were not born as a complete image of God, only two thirds of the spiritual image, plus a body. The missing third part of your trinity is God. You don’t gain God until you except Christ as your Savior, which is much more than any idol could do for you. American idols can’t make you complete. Jesus can and does make you a complete image of God. That is why so many successful people with all the toys the want and millions of dollars in the bank still know that something is missing in their lives. Yet they refuse to accept Christ and continue on placing worldly endeavors in he primary position in their lives. C. S. Lewis explained that this is like a child who continues to make mud pies because she has no idea how fantastically wonderful a day at Disneyland would be. And Disneyland can’t hold a candle to having the kingdom of God within you.
Enjoying music is OK. I have music I like, and so does everyone else. I have my favorite artists. If I could ask Billy Graham, I’m sure he’d tell me he had favorite music and favorite artists. But artists, music and success are not the end all in life. They are tools to help ease you through your day, to help you feel better and for you to enjoy. And, they can be utilized to help you bring other to Christ. That is their primary position in your life, as is everything else. You can’t work hard and gain salvation, nor try again next year if you don’t make it this year. Salvation has nothing at all to do with your earning it: By grace you are saved through faith, and not of yourself; it is the gift of God. Nor of works, lest you should boast. You are recreated in Christ Jesus to do the works He has planned for you to do since before time began (Ephesians 2:8-10). So, keep everything in the correct context and perspective so that you can maintain the correct position in life, which is living In Jesus to bring others to Him. By your fruits others will know you as a Christian, and follow Christ through you. By your acceptance of Him He will know you and then work through you. If you are not a Christian, now is the time to accept Christ as your personal Savior, now is the time of salvation. You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, or even the next five minutes. And, not deciding is to decide against Him. Don’t put it off, accept Him now. If you are a Christian, then remember to keep everything in perspective. Christ should always be number one in your life, not a singer, actor, or even your parents or spouse. Keep Christ at the forefront of your existence and everything else will work out as God has planned it to work out for you.