I’m talking more “American Idol” than worshiping a carving.
The Beatles may have had an unannounced concert on the roof of the Apple building in January 1969, but their last official concert was 29 August 1966. Why did they quit public performances? The screaming had gotten so loud that they couldn’t hear the music themselves. They were confident that no one else could hear them. Why did the girls scream out of control? It’s due to the autonomic nervous system. There are two branches of this system, one being parasympathetic. The parasympathetic branch produces a restful and comforting type response as opposed to the “flight or fright” response (sympathetic). It causes the tears to flow, girls to faint, and in the process of losing control, they scream.
Ed Sullivan became very sensitive to the complaints from viewers regarding the screams. On at least one show, when Gerry and the Pacemakers were performing, Ed said something like this, “Now, I’m going to introduce these fellows. You are going to scream, but then I ask you to be quiet so that the audience can hear the performance.” There were still random high pitched squeaks, but you actually got to hear, “Don’t Let the Sun Catch you Cryin’”.
Why was the TV shows in Europe and the US called “Idol”? We idolize those that we adore. We place them on a pedestal. Is this sin? Absolutely, but it can be instructive. Can we love Jesus with the same fervor?
For me, I loved Johnny Unitas. On 28 December 1958, I was six-years old. When I witnessed Johnny Unitas lead the upstart Colts to a 14-3 halftime lead over the New York Giants (the powerhouse of the NFL at the time), I was hooked. Back in those days, you didn’t see football games on TV that much. This was being televised live across the United States, a big deal for television. A momentous occasion. For the event, my father’s father, Granddaddy, invited us to watch the game on his black and white TV. It was bigger than ours next door. As I got excited about every pass completion that Unitas threw, Granddaddy became angry. Each time I yelled, he got redder in the face. I was six. I didn’t know that the quarterback of the other team was Charlie Conerly. I didn’t know that Charlie Conerly graduated from Ole Miss, a school that was just 38 miles from where we were watching the game.
Emily Dickinson may have first coined the phrase “The heart wants what it wants.” It has been quoted and paraphrased over the years. My Dad realized that I was in one of those moments. Explaining the college connection would not have worked. When there was a technical transmission problem and the live signal was lost, my Dad used that as an excuse. He said that I needed to go home. We went home and watched the rest of the game there. From that day until the day Johnny Unitas retired, I followed his exploits. I cried when the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III and I vowed vengeance on the Dallas Cowboys for injuring Unitas in Super Bowl V. I knew Unitas was getting old. This was his last chance. When I found a friend who had a Johnny Unitas trading card, I offered him my entire collection of football and baseball cards. It wasn’t enough. At least I got to see one of his trading cards.
Are we ever that excited about Jesus?
During my freshman year at Ole Miss, we were having a major inspection at ROTC one day. My uniform was perfect, but I never got that mirror image on my shoes. The engineering school was about as far away as you could get from Guyton Hall where Army ROTC was at the time. My class prior to the inspection ran late. I walked briskly. I was afraid that my gig line would shift if I ran. I might kick up dust onto my shoes if I ran. Then there was a traffic jam. I thought of alternate routes, but each one would make me late. There was this guy right in front of me who was walking so slowly. If I could just brush past, I’d make it to class on time.
The problem was that each time a girl came in the opposite direction, she’d stop, curtsy, and say, “Hey.” The guy in front of me nodded, but rarely spoke to any of the girls.
Then, finally, there was a break in the flow of pedestrians in the other direction. I pulled up next to the slow-walking guy and noticed that it was Archie Manning, quarterback of the football team, the object of “The Ballad of Archie Who” and destined for greatness in the NFL. My reaction was not that of someone in awe. The constant stopping of traffic to say “Hey” to him and the curtsies were going to make me late.
Maybe Archie saw frustration rather than the usual reaction. He said, “Man, you must be something with the ladies. All of them saying ‘Hey’ to you. Must be the uniform.”
I laughed and said, “Right” as sarcastically as I could muster, but it was half caught in my throat. He winked and waved good-bye. I almost had to start running at this point. I was late, but they hadn’t called us to attention when I got in line. No demerits.
I knew people from around the country who had come to Ole Miss that year to go to school because they might have a chance to meet Archie. I was there because Ole Miss was 38 miles from my house to the parking lot nearest the engineering building. I commuted for 3+ of the four years.
Have you ever traveled hours to get to an event where the Word of God was going to be preached? Is your choice of church the closest one from your house, or at least the closest of a specific denomination?
When I was in first grade, the Hanna-Barbera cartoons started, but I rode the school bus. The cartoons were over by the time I got home. I was at a loss in the playground discussions. I hadn’t seen the shows. In the third grade, I was old enough to run a mile from the school to MawMaw’s house. This was in open defiance of my mother who thought that cartoons would ruin society. I was allowed one half hour per week, unless she wasn’t around. Once MawMaw realized my reason for coming to her house instead of riding the bus, she had the TV turned to the proper channel and warmed up, so I didn’t miss any part of the cartoons. I was finally in the know.
Have you ever run a mile just to have more time for Bible reading? Have you ever thirsted for knowledge of Jesus so much that you picked up the Bible and devoured every word that you could read? Have you gone to and from work with a Bible on audio CD or cassette tape playing?
I could give more examples, but the point is clear. We have, or have had, people in our lives who were celebrities. We bought magazines because their picture was on the cover. We watched certain shows on TV, because they were making a guest appearance, or they were the star of the show. My greatest celebrity hero was Red Skelton. I loved how he laughed at his own jokes.
We all know what that feeling is like to hear the new song, watch the live sporting event, or see a play where the star is performing. If you know Jesus as your savior, you know the feeling you had when you first accepted Him as your savior. The feeling may be softer today, but it should be just as real. Jesus is right beside you. He is in your heart. He is greater than any sports star, rock star or movie star that has made you weak in the knees.
As Beth Moore wrote, “If your heart has grown cold, it is because you have moved away from the fire of His presence.”