2 Cor. 2:14-17
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such task as this? …We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.
On Sunday night Don and I took in some of “American Idol” finals. We don’t watch this program, I think it was kind of a divine appointment because I am always listening for God to speak in the things I watch.
One of the contestants, having made it into the top 40, was a young lady with the most remarkable voice. She is a worship leader and told a bit of her story ahead to the judges. The female judge also got her start singing in church. When it came time for the young lady to perform the final her song, she chose “Break Every Chain.” The key words in this song are: “There is Power in the Name of Jesus to break every chain. There’s an army rising up to break every chain.”
She did an absolutely remarkable job and has an incredible voice. People were worshiping as she sang and the presence of God was there. Don and I observed the judges and you could tell that they weren’t enjoying the performance. As she was coming to the judges to see if she’d make it into the next round they were talking among themselves. It was being recorded for all of us to hear. One judge said, “I didn’t connect with that song.” One said, “She should have chosen something inclusive, why didn’t she?” When the contestant sat down, the woman judge said to her, “Why did you choose that song?” She replied that her relationship with God was the most important thing in her life, and that is what she wanted to sing about. The female judge replied, “You should have done an inclusive song. You have a remarkable voice. It is a gift. You have charisma. You have talent, but we are looking for people who will stretch themselves into new venues. You could have sung that song well – in your sleep. I am sorry but you are not going to the next round.”
It was clear the problem was not the talent, nor the presentation, it was the song, whose words were still ringing, “There is power in the Name of Jesus to break every chain.” But that was not the end of this story.
The contestant thanked them and left the outdoor platform. The camera was there as she stepped away to capture her response. She graciously said she was thankful for the opportunity, however she had to be herself. That God was who she wanted to sing about as He was the most important thing in her life. She said she was a worship leader… She didn’t get an opportunity to finish her statement because a wind came up from nowhere. It ripped through the trees around her. It caught her hair and clothing. You could not only see the wind, you could hear it. It was eerie. She looked up and said “WOW, I think He is here now and I think He is speaking.”
The camera flashed back to the judges as a deluge of rain began falling from the sky, soaking them all. You could tell they felt unsettled because of the immediacy of the event as they had just rejected this young woman and her message. They looked at one another, then one of them sheepishly said, “Well it is the tropics” as they left the platform.
If we return to the Corinthians passage, it is good to be reminded that, first and foremost, whatever we do out of loving God and sharing the knowledge of him to others is a sweet fragrance that travels to HIM. He is watching! Your small act of shopping for a friend or stranger, making a call to check in on someone, volunteering at CareWorks, praying for people or our hurting world, even singing a song of devotion on an American Idol stage, is part of His triumphal procession on the earth.
It’s also good to be reminded people hear or see the same thing so differently. It is not personal if you are not received. If you truly know this you won’t be touched by bitterness. You can still act in grace not being sidetracked by rejection. Something much greater is at work. “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain and there’s an army rising up to break every chain,” was for these judges “not inclusive.” It therefore disqualified the messenger. To my ears it was a powerful and inclusive invitation from God. Come join in – for I am great and in My power, we can break the power that blinds and binds.
Third, it is good to be reminded that God is always behind the scenes working. The airing of the program was no accident. At a time unique in history, when we desperately need chains broken it is a promise that in Jesus is our help. It didn’t impact those judges, but God orchestrated that moment in spite of them. There was a multitude of people who heard the message that young woman delivered.
Don’t underestimate your good works! “You were made for such a time as this.” The ripples of how you love not only ascend to God himself, but travel out in little circles to a world of people. Be strong, be courageous, take love risks and be secure in Him.
May God Bless Us All