Can We Heal a Soul with Our Applause?

spectators-1444043_640Can we be healed by majority rule?

If enough people accept me, say that they love me, applaud for me, and welcome me into their hearts, will that fill the empty space inside and make me whole?

Is life and identity truly best informed by a scene from Peter Pan where the audience saves Tinkerbelle with their handclaps and not by the true story of creation, fall, and redemption found in Jesus Christ?

Can we be “liked,” “followed,” “downloaded,” and “viewed” into mental, physical, and spiritual healing?

I have a weakness for shows like America’s Got Talent or The Voice and I share this weakness with my dad. Every season we watch one of them together and follow our favorites through to the finals, even sometimes voting on Twitter or Google for the underdogs we think deserve a break. But, as much as I enjoy these productions, I’m disturbed by a trend I hear coming from the contestants and the judges. A trend I believe is reflective of our society as a whole.

It’s part of the drama of the competition for the show to create a video that tells a contestant’s story – carefully choosing what is most dramatic and most likely to create compassion or interest for them with the audience. Where have they struggled? Have they endured a loss, a disease, or a disability? Are they an unlikely vehicle for a great, formerly hidden talent? As a writer, I appreciate why certain stories rise to the top with producers and audiences alike.

Still, the most disturbing trend I’m witnessing is the story of contestants who have spent a lifetime feeling like heart-582593_640rejected, unaccepted, bullied outsiders who will never find their place in this world. Time and again, when their talent shines and the audience rises to their feet, one of the judges will say, “Now you can tell all those people who hated you that America loves you.” Or “Even though your family threw you out, our family here has taken you in!” Or “All these years you’ve been wondering who you are and now you know, you’re a star!”

The contestant will respond, overwhelmed with tears and the acceptance of the crowd, with words like “Finally, I feel like I’m home!” or “Now, I know where I belong – right here.” Or “This is the moment I’ve waited for all my life.” In follow up interviews with these fortunate, favored individuals, the interviewer will refer to the numbers “How does it feel to have X number of views on Youtube, downloads on Itunes, followers on Twitter, likes on Facebook?” and the contestant lets the audience know he or she feels their love.

And the audience, well we, feel powerful and effective. Our applause has healed a human soul. By clicking a box on our laptops or phones, we’ve given a lost soul an identity. For a 99 cent download, we’ve laid hands on a worthy heart and they walked away whole.

That’s intoxicating but it’s a lie.

I get it, I do. I have nothing against moments of triumph. Moments where we glimpse our purpose. Moments of award, applause, and approval by a crowd can be pivotal for any of us struggling to find our calling. They can be powerful confirmations that we’ve found our sweet spot and strong encouragement that we’re headed in the right direction.  Nothing wrong with that.

Unless, we rely on the crowd to tell us who we are. Unless we depend on that applause for direction. Unless we place all our hope for healing on approval from the masses. Because we don’t really live on stage and if we only feel loved, whole, and at home when the spotlight shines in our favor, then we’re no better than Pinocchio at the start of his story, relying on others pulling our strings to bring us to life. Our search should always be the pursuit of becoming a “real boy.”

pinocchio-703376_640The need is real. We’re all hurting for it. We’re hard-wired to need love, identity, purpose, calling, acceptance, family, and home. It’s when we rely on the fickle crowd as if we’re gladiators at the Colosseum, our lives dependent on the thumbs up of the masses, that we become wooden puppet versions of our flesh and blood selves. It’s not that it isn’t something, it’s that it’s not enough. It’s like taken a Tylenol to cure cancer – it may dull the pain of dying but you’re still headed in the wrong direction. Why settle for a painkiller when we can have the cure?

Our true identity, that which we were created to inhabit, remains true even when the crowd walks away, even when they boo or give us the thumbs down, even when they don’t want to hear our song. To be found in Christ means to know our real selves, to be embraced by a forever family, to know we are already home.

John says this: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” I John 3:1-2 (ESV)

Jesus suffered the ultimate rejection. “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know sunset-50494_640him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” John 1:10-11 (ESV) When the spotlight on His ministry took a dark turn, He didn’t lose His way because it wasn’t the crowd that made Him, defined Him, or gave Him life. Even on the cross, He knew who He was, where He came from, and where He was going.

And if He is the place we turn for healing, if His is the only applause we seek, if He is the face we search for in the crowd, we will own that wholeness and certainty, too. Don’t settle for a painkiller when you can be healed. Don’t settle for a furlough from prison when you can be free forever. Don’t be a puppet when you can be real. Don’t settle for the applause of this world when you can receive eternal acceptance.

And if we truly love those who are hurting in this life, let’s offer them more than our applause. Let’s be sure we introduce them to Jesus.

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5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Megan Vance says:

    Oh my Lori, how well you spoke the Truth here. What an amazing insight. You are so right, only God gives us a real identity with Him, and it is ENOUGH.

    Amen Lori!

    Love,
    Megan

  2. I’ve been away from social media for 3 weeks and I’ve really missed being challenged by your posts!

    I learned the hard way that, when I define myself in anything but my identity in Jesus, I’m on the path to failure. Nothing else brings true security. “Why settle for a painkiller when we can have the cure?” Without Jesus we can only dull our pain.

  3. I’ll take the stead calm assurance of Jesus over the roller coaster of approval/notsomuch any day. Thank you for reminding us of the source of ALL joy 🙂

  4. Tresa says:

    I am always encouraged by your words. One true affirmation of God’s call on your life is that you always point us to Jesus…and so many times it causes me to tear up and tell Him how awesome HE is! Thanks so much!