And the Award Goes To...

by Joanie Butman

Prior to last week’s Academy Awards, my friend sent me the following message. I changed her name for obvious reasons.

I have now seen all of the movies nominated for Oscars. I am still awaiting contact from the Academy for my votes. A few categories that may not be televised Sunday night:

Most Popcorn Eaten: Yours Truly

Most Coke Zero Drank: Yours Truly

Most Good & Plenty Consumed: Yours Truly

Most Jr. Mints Melted on Bottom of Purse: Yours Truly

Most Stomach Aches Following Movies: Yours Truly

Most Rum Added to Coke Zero: Guess Who!

Can’t decide which designer I will be wearing for the show but after all of those movies, they may have to wrap me in the red carpet!

I laughed out loud!! Seriously, who doesn’t love the Oscars? Even though the Academy failed to honor Joan Rivers’ absence, she was always my favorite part. Her show, Fashion Police, gave us a license to be catty, and she was the master. Her critiques were priceless, though often brutal. She spared no one.

Hebrews 11 is the equivalent of a Biblical Academy Award List of winners and nominees. \

However, you will not find the cream of the crop amongst this motley crew, and Joan Rivers would have had a field day with them. They weren’t the most beautiful, talented, polished, educated, connected or best dressed. In fact, quite the opposite. Therein lies the example and hope for all of us.

These Christian superstars were just ordinary people who gave Oscar-winning performances in the roles in which they were cast. Some were larger than life, like Moses the stutterer, while many held supporting roles or bit parts, like many Jesus healed. Theirs weren’t flawless performances either, but ones riddled with bloopers. The one commonality they shared had nothing to do with their outward appearance or outstanding execution, but with their availability and willingness to follow their Director’s instruction.

In reality, few of us will ever be called to walk the red carpet in LA, and the Academy isn’t interested in our vote. Nevertheless, each of us will eventually take that last walk home clothed in the righteousness of Christ (if we so choose), where no Spanx or Botox are necessary. He smoothes out any bulges, wrinkles or imperfections. Gratefully, it won’t be Joan Rivers critiquing us but Jesus whose mercy never fails.

My friend’s email closely mirrors my own evaluation of a much longer list of self-indulgences. Though humorous, it caused me to pause and seriously consider my performance as a Christian. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Sounds discouraging until I think back on Hebrews 11 and remember that the majority of those people would never have been nominated as the ‘Best’ anything – at least not initially. However, they all qualify in the 'Best Ambassador for Christ' category despite their long list of character defects. Thousands of years later we are still reading about them, and it’s not about their outfits.

We can all choose to be Ambassadors for Christ regardless of our abilities or lackluster performances in the past. One of the many things I love about Jesus is that He has the ability to make everyone feel like His favorite. You can always count on His vote. In His eyes we are all winners in the 'Best Loved' category. Even so, we still have to choose to accept it and claim our award, which is His grace and salvation. When you choose to wrap your heart around that truth, you can't help but bubble over with a joy that lasts longer than any Oscar win. Your prayers of gratitude and praise become your lifelong acceptance speech.