America is Beautiful: A Jesus Follower Response

Here’s the commercial that is at the center of the controversy.

My friend

My friend

As I watched last night, what caught my eye was this striking young woman. And the moment I saw her, I knew. She is my friend. We spent many happy hours singing together. She and I were the two first sopranos of our college’s scholarship choir. And I LOVED singing with her. Her voice was always so pure and strong. She pushed me to be better and I can only hope I did the same. We were in performances and plays together. We went on tour together. She watched, laughed, and counseled me as I fell in love with Coach. I watched and cheered for her as she chased her dreams. And when I saw her face, I knew. I raced to FB to congratulate her!

She lives in the city now and is living her dream of being an actress. She’s brilliant. And I’ll admit I get to live a little vicariously through her success, because I knew her when. This was one of those times! I was thrilled for her and quickly bragged to everyone gathered at our Super Bowl party.

As I was typing my congratulations to her, the negative posts began. People criticizing the song being sung in different languages. People criticizing the inclusion of different religions. People criticizing the inclusion of alternative lifestyles.

I got angry. And then I got defensive.  They don’t know my beautiful friend. They don’t know her journey. And they certainly don’t know the journey of all those people featured in the commercial. (Click here for the Behind the Scenes look.) I’m proud to say one such insensitive post has been removed, but many more exist. And that makes me sad!

I’m sad as a person because she is my friend. She’s beautiful on the inside and the out. She was a fantastic friend to me in college. And it doesn’t matter how she dresses or what languages she can sing in (and it’s a lot because our vocal professor taught us well.) She IS a beautiful!!!

I’m sad as an American because comments like these display an ignorance about America’s heritage. We are a melting pot. We were founded as a safe haven from persecution. It is our combined uniqueness that makes us great! And when we turn from that core value, we loose the essence of being an American.

And I’m sad as a Christian because comments like these sow seeds of intolerance and they are not in keeping with the life and message of Jesus, to love your neighbor. People who say these thoughtless and judgmental things will seldom be asked, “Why are you so different? Where do you get the joy in your life?” because the kind of different they are is not something anyone is drawn to. And these seeds of intolerance impede those of us who are trying to follow Jesus; they impede us from sharing God’s love. And that makes my soul ache.

But I won’t be sad for long, because I know my beautiful friend, I know the heart of my country, and I know the love of God. And, perhaps most important today, I know true American beauty when I see it!

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