It was just a quiet Sunday night in my living room but all the way across the country, the scene was anything but sleepy. It was Oscar night.
The lights flashed in a dizzying flurry of paparazzi pandemonium. Women posed against backdrops of silver and gold, always careful to show the camera their "good side." Men dawned custom tuxedos with perfectly positioned bow ties and designer labels. Commentators spent hours speculating about which verdict the Academy would reach in each category. A grand staircase, blanketed in red velvet, led to the theater that would be home to the moment of truth for the anxious nominees.
But one particular nominee wasn't nervous at all. He was calm, cool and completely collected. The interviewer peppered him with questions, "Who are you wearing?" "What are are your post-Oscar plans tonight?" The nominee, up for best actor, was focused solely on the award he was sure he would take home. "I've got a good feeling about this one," he said. The nominee was all smiles, exuding confidence. He believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that by the end of night he would be in possession of a coveted golden statue.
The crowd gathered in the glamorous theater and the festivities began. Awards for music, visual effects and costumes filled the early evening. Finally, the time came to reveal the highly-anticipated best actress, best actor and best picture. The cameras panned over the crowd, landing on the nominees surrounded by applauding peers.
Best actress came first. The projected winner took home the prize. Then came best actor. Would the confident nominee from the red carpet be justified in his absolute assurance? The screen cut to a live shot. The contender for the prize was still smiling, not a hint of anxiety to be found.
Back at the podium the presenter stood poised, ready to deliver the verdict. "And the Oscar goes to..."
Not Mr. Confident.
The crowd exploded into applause as the Oscar winner rose from his chair with relief and pure ecstasy. The camera cut back to the dejected nominees, catching the crestfallen Mr. Confident. He would be going home disheartened, with empty hands and a bruised ego.
The confidence the actor had put in his work failed to win the prize when the final judgment came down. The Academy reviewed his performance, considered the competition and found his showing to be inferior. All the confidence in his own achievement came crashing down in front of millions of viewers.
But celebrities aren't alone in their mis-placed confidence and trust. To put belief and hope in anything or anyone other than the Lord will always produce the same result, a massive let down. The verdict may not be handed down in a glamorous Hollywood theater with a hundred cameras filling the room but the rejection can be just as painful. Trust in personal achievement and worldly accomplishments will, at the final judgment, never suffice because the only lasting prize isn't won with self-confidence. It is only achieved through confidence in Jesus Christ.
The only prize worthy of our confidence and trust is salvation won, once and for all, on the cross . It is by faith in Jesus that our reward is bestowed. With Jesus Christ's final, "It is finished" sinners are transformed into winners and presented with the ultimate prize: eternal life.
The greatest reward any of us could ever hope for is entrance into the Kingdom of God. Even the shiniest of Oscars can't compare to the unfathomable prize won by putting confidence and trust in the Lord Almighty. And that prize can be ours, no red carpet necessary.