I've recently begun reading Philip Yancey's book, What's So Amazing About Grace? and have been especially challenged by the difficulty of actually living out what I say I believe in regard to the concept of grace. For instance, I'd like to think that in the story of The Prodigal Son that I identify more closely with the father, but, in reality, I think I'm more like the older brother. I find that oftentimes I am more concerned with receiving what I think I deserve rather than being more concerned with extending God's love to others.
So I was profoundly encouraged and pleasantly surprised to recently see a tangible demonstration of grace displayed in front of over 30 million people on national television on a recent episode of Fox's American Idol. In the initial auditions of the contestants, Simon Cowell, the popular sharp-tongued judge, made some mean comments toward one of the contestants, Mandisa, regarding her weight. However, Mandisa is a quite talented singer and she advanced through the early rounds. As of last week, the judges had narrowed the field down to 44 remaining singers and they then whittled the singers down to the final 24.
In order to communicate their decision to the contestants, the judges (Simon, Paula & Randy) met with each of the 44 finalists to let them know if they had advanced or if it was the end of the road for them. Enter Mandisa. As she sat down to hear whether the judges had decided that she had advanced in the competition, she had this to say first:
"Simon, a lot of people want me to say a lot of things to you, but this is what I want to say to you. It's that yes, you hurt me, and I cried, and it was painful, it really was, but I want you to know that I've forgiven you, and that you don't need somebody to apologize in order to forgive somebody, and I figure that if Jesus could die so that all of my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you so I just wanted you to know."If you are a viewer of American Idol, you know that many times contestants lash out towards the judges with anger, foul language and emotional outbursts (sometimes with their parents standing by them spurring them on). So Mandisa's humble display was a perfect example of grace. Because Simon was inexcusably and unnecessarily mean towards her, Mandisa had every right (in a wordly mindset) to say something mean or cruel back to him. But in a composed and thoughtful gesture, she publicly forgave him and acknowledged that Jesus' death on the cross and the suffering that He went through for her sins (and for mine...and for yours) was much bigger than some snide comments from Simon Cowell.
Simon replied "Mandisa, I'm humbled..."
So often I shudder and hide my eyes when Christians are portrayed on T.V., but this time I was proud of the example of one of my sisters. I know I'll be hoping that Mandisa goes far and continues to represent our Lord well in front of the American Idol audience. You can look at Mandisa's profile here.