By Elliott Ryan
I am constantly amazed at what some people will do to get on TV. As an example, look at the recent episodes of "American Idol" on Fox. Every year, the season starts with a series of audition shows. The judges travel around the country conducting a series of cattle call auditions. Thousands of people stand in line to be judged by the experts. The producers edit together highlights of these tryouts and air them for the first few weeks of the season.
The resulting shows are both funny and sad. Sure, we get to see a first glimpse of some of the talented singers who hope to win the competition and embark on their dream career as a famous musician. But much more time is spent showing us the singers who do not make the cut. Hilarity ensues as the hosts and viewers at home endure the torture of being subjected to people who should reserve their singing for the shower. I don’t usually feel too bad for these people. I suspect they just wanted to get on TV and were willing to embarrass themselves to do it.
But sometimes, I feel really bad. Some of these people seem to have gotten all of their future hopes pinned on being praised by these judges and ushered through to the competition in Hollywood. As someone who can’t carry a tune, I hope I won’t seem judgmental by mentioning that most of these people have no reason to get their hopes up.
The harsh criticism of the judges doesn’t help the situation at all. Even Paula Abdul, often considered the nice judge, isn’t being all that nice to untalented contestants this year. It isn’t bad enough that a person has just sung terribly off key with no semblance of rhythm on national television. On top of that, three famous judges have just tried to come up with the most creative way of dashing that person’s dreams.
The judges aren’t just commenting on the musical talents of the show’s “losers.” They also have snide comments to make about the contestants’ clothes, hair, weight, personality, and dental work. It is no wonder some people leave the audition room in tears.
It kind of reminds me of high school. Perhaps your high school experience is different than mine. But I think many people might relate to my story.
I remember going through high school always trying to figure out where I fit in. At the time, I thought I was the only one going through that struggle. But looking back on it all now, I can see that most of the other students around me were just as desperate to belong.
At the top of the high school social ladder were the cool kids. Since they were at the top, it was their job to judge the rest of us. I’m not sure who ever appointed them to be the judges or why I let their opinions have so much importance in my own mind. But for a few years, many of the major decisions I faced were influenced by what people would think. One question kept running through my head as a young Christian teenager: What would the cool kids do?
We weren’t judging each other based on singing abilities. But just about everything else was fair game. We’d come to school just looking for the approval of the judges around us. We’d be asking (nonverbally of course), “Am I cool? Do I fit in? Do you like me?” Students wandered the halls looking for approval from the critics of cool.
Of course the problem with this is that no one can meet up to everyone else’s expectations. So time after time, students get frustrated because they feel they don’t fit in. Or they spend all their time trying to be someone else so they do fit in.
It is just something teenagers face though. All throughout our lives, we look for a place to belong. The good news is that God has provided for this need as He has for every other need we have. He has given us a spiritual family to belong to eternally. That is one of the reasons we attend church. Through the local church, we should find acceptance and love regardless of our clothes or weight or singing ability.
But not only do we get to fellowship with other believers. We get to have fellowship with God -- our Creator, the only Judge whose opinion has eternal consequence. He won’t turn us away. We don’t need to score cool points to hang with Him. He judges differently than people do. The Bible says it like this: “People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can all belong.
peace with God.
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