Maybe it was all planned to perk up a sagging ratings season on television, but the major awards of the year parade themselves in the thick of winter. While the ballots are cast as early as October, the Hollywood awards season officially kicks off in January, when a rash of writing, producing and entertainment celebrations culminate in the Oscars. In between all that, you can get fired up on the spectacles of the Super bowl, the Puppy Bowl, Westminster Dog Show, the Grammy’s, the Tony’s and this year, a special treat, the Winter Olympics. If you’re really keen, you can even catch the Bollywood’s, the Kid’s Choice Awards and ‘the Razzies’ as well. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s no shortage of spectacle for the glory-hungry.
It’s not like we’re talking here about something significant, a scientific or humanitarian breakthrough, like the Nobel Peace Prize. Do you know who won Nobel Prizes last year? I certainly don’t. I’ve never even heard about the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, (a winner). Who’s credited with the most sterling breakthroughs in cancer research or heart disease? What are the latest brilliant discoveries in Physics? Why are these people not celebrated on the same level? Why are we so attracted to the gaudy extravaganza’s, which insiders jadedly inform us are not an accurate reflection of the true state of the industry, but instead, a manifestation of the politicking, money and power-mongering going on brazenly behind the scenes? Unfortunately, this world seems to reward only money, performance, power, beauty or some fantasy combination thereof.
We love awards. We crave rewards. Even I admit to catching a few minutes of these flesh-fest celebrations, though I can’t buy into the full spectacle. It’s got to be tied somehow to the fact the we are creatures created for worship. As attention paid to something is a manifestation of worship, we are certainly worshipping at the altars of these demi-gods. Obviously, it satisfies some deep need within us.
It’s not like we didn’t cut our eye-teeth on this whole concept. The Bible is chock full of the stories of good and evil, justice and penalty, righteousness and vindication. Heros and villains abound. Rewards (good), or punishments (bad) figure largely. A whole system of righteousness is predicated upon it. Something deep within us knows…there will be rewards…there will be payback. We can hear the primordial certainty of it, even within ourselves.
In the New Testament, awards and rewards are also liberally sprinkled. Hebrews 11:6 states flatly “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. We’re actively encouraged to believe and expect there will be a pleasant and fruitful response to our seeking. No less than five crowns pertaining to righteousness are promised, did you know? There’s the Crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the Crown of life, (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10), the Crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4), an Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-25), and finally, the Crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Each of these is bestowed for a particular excellence in Spiritual life, and the accomplishments of faith. But these are promised for the next life. There’s not much manifestation of them here on this side. So, Lord, here’s my question; “Where are the Spectacular Rewards of Righteousness for the dedicated here on earth?” You have made some rather grand promises, remember?
“And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life”. Mark 10:29-30
As far as I’m concerned, there’s been precious little manifestation of this promise. The awards system of the kingdom of God gets nowhere near the hype of the world’s rewards, even when it does occur. When’s the last time you heard a totally indisputable ‘payback of righteous’ story you fell to your knees to give God the glory for? (Please, e-mail it to me!) When’s it our turn Lord? The truth is, I know scads of thoroughly sincere people, true believers, who have been laboring away, uncomplaining, in the obscurest corners of the kingdom. They have sacrificed ridiculous amounts, suffered gross indignities, been hated, persecuted, tortured, outcast, and never said a word. Ignorant pagans berate the church, but those of us on the inside know scores of die-hard faithfuls who are going the full distance without missing a beat. And they’re not it for the money, but for the sake of your name, Jesus! Frankly Lord, some form of recognition and distinction is long overdue. I’m not denigrating the efforts of true professionals who have poured out their hearts pursuing earthly excellence, but are the gold metals of 16-year old snowboarders really to be compared to the decades-old efforts of veteran believers, who have sacrificed everything? Something is seriously out of skew.
If, like me, you’re absolutely fed up with the inequity, hold on to your hat, because 2018 is going to be a year of stellar paybacks! We had barely crossed the year’s threshold when I began getting wave upon wave of prophetic intimation of big rewards. With the death of Billy Graham on February 21, an era came to an end. A long season of sowing is complete. God is no man’s debtor, and He’s about to prove it. A mass of issues that have hung in the balance for a long time have come to fullness. The scales are tipping, and promises are about to be fulfilled. It's still worth it to be on the side of the angels; I’ve never been more certain. Keep your lamps topped with oil, because the Bridegroom is at the door.