I have recently been watching the X Factor and it’s currently the auditions, which is my favourite part of the program! Some acts can really make you cringe and curl up into a ball and wonder why their friends and family didn’t tell them that they were not right for this audition. You also get the amazing acts, the ones that look the part and can act in the right way, they shine out with their hair style and rustic voice and they have winner stamped on their forehead.
But then you get the ones that come on stage and they don’t look the part, their hair is wrong, their body shape isn’t right and their clothes are not up to date or fit in with the style of our culture. They come onto stage quite shy and out-of-place. The judges look at them and glaze over, they sigh and already resign to the idea that this person is going to be terrible. The audience sniggers, points and smirks. They whisper: “Who do they think they are coming on stage like that? They don’t belong here.”
Then it happens. The shy, out-of-place guy or girl opens their mouths and the most beautiful sound comes out. It makes the whole theatre go into a deep silence as ears are being washed with the most delicate and heart wrenching song that they will ever hear. Their hearts melt and transforms their opinions of this person. The judges gaze open-mouthed and wondered how they could have been so wrong about this person. And the person singing is swept up in the moment, singing like a bird in flight, and allowing everyone to see the true beauty that was masked. This is one of my favourite moments in the competition. I love it because it makes me think about my own heart and the heart of Christ.
When that person come on stage I judge them. In my heart I wonder why they are there – they don’t look the part, they look messy, weak and out-of-place. It reminds me how often I treat others, how I judge them from first impressions, appearances and what people say about them. My cruel heart deems them unworthy and I wonder why they are in church and I wonder if they are really a christian if they don’t serve as hard as everyone else does or questions the teaching from the preacher when everyone else is silent.
Then some days I am like that weak, shy person on stage. With the spotlights on me and I look a mess and feel helpless and weak and everyone is judging me – they judge what I do, what I say, how I say it, how I serve, how I spend my time etc Just the same way as I judge them really. We all like to think we don’t and we all like to think we get up on stage as spotless perfect people but we don’t.
The reality is that when that person or I get on stage we are all the same – messed up, weak, broken, hurt, sinful and we don’t look the part, no matter how hard we try to dress up and cover our stench with the latest thing. And you know what? Even when we try to sing, try to speak what comes out isn’t what happens on X Factor, we don’t turn heads like those guys do on TV. No its much worse – our voice is flat and trembles. Instead something remarkable happens; as we stand on stage someone else stands with us and he sings for us. He sings over us. Jesus sings the most beautiful song for his wife, covers her shame and guilt, he soothes her wounds and her comforts her hurts. The song he sings is one of the cross – he died for her and rose to life so that she could one day stand on that stage clothed in him and be one with him.
If I am the person on the stage, I can do nothing but cling to Jesus, knowing I can’t do this without him, knowing that I will fail unless he does it for me. And if I am the person judging then it reminds my heart that this person is loved and cherished by Jesus more than I realise and I have no place to think I am better than they are. Not when he has clothed them with his blood soaked garments. And the ironic thing is that I too have been clothed in Christ and yet I forget that as I sit in the shadows passing remarks and thoughts that are damaging to the other person. Christ loves me and if I really thought about it, I would be amazed that Jesus would love such a terrible sinner. And Christ loves you, no matter what you look like, how you feel, your weakness and how messy you are. He loves you.
*Just as an aside, I know that singing and the X factor stage isn’t the greatest or strongest analogy of the cross and being one with Christ. But I hope you understood where I was coming from and got the point I was making.