But at least it was cool that he was nominated, right? I mean, when was the last time Bruce Springsteen was up for the Congressional Medal Of Honor or Peter Tork from the Monkees was asked to receive a Purple Heart? Rock stars being praised in noteworthy circles just doesn't happen that often, so this should be a big deal.
Only... it isn't.
What you may not know is that this year had the largest list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize ever. What you also may not know is that anyone can be nominated.
Want to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize? All you need is a Congressman or a university professor to submit your name. That's it! You don't need to have accomplished anything, nor made a major contribution of noteworthy status. If your old buddy from junior high happens to be in Congress these days, call him up and say, "Hey - remember when I let you drink out of my Orange Soda bottle without wiping it off? Yeah... so nominate me for the Nobel Peace Prize, chump."
I share that not to take anything away from Bono, but instead to highlight the fact that we often live under the illusion that certain things have more prestige than the actually do.
I saw this on The Apprentice a few weeks ago when George (the whiny old guy who sits next to Trump) was chewing out a contestant for not letting some celebrities get on stage during an "Autism Speaks" fundraiser. He said something like, "Don't you tink dat dem bein' celebrities gives dem the right to be on stage?" I'm sorry... I didn't know that if someone makes a half of a billion dollars a year that they need something from the little guys.
Anyway... the point is that way too often we give things value that may not necessarily be reality. Sometimes we dream of a job being the answer to all our needs when it is actually full of lots of imperfection just waiting for us to unfold. Or perhaps there is a relationship we feel that if we had (or had fixed) then "everything" would be perfect in our lives. "One more raise or bonus... one more thing for my collection... one more concert or movie... one more person to say they like me... one more _______"
There is only one thing we truly need. The good news is that it is freely offered to us... the love of God through Jesus Christ. Jesus didn't come to establish another religion - He came to offer us real life... not just when we die but even now.
Imagine that - EVERYONE gets nominated to receive it. And it's real... yet so few show up to collect the award because it requires bowing a knee to Jesus Christ.
I feel bad that Bono missed out on his award. Or... has he?
"Being a Christian hasn't given me all the answers; instead it's given me a whole new set of questions." - BonoHmm... then again, there was this account from someone else who went to a recent concert of his.
About five songs into their set, Bono stopped the show and strapped on a headband with writing on it. I stared up at the JumboTron to see that the handwritten lettering said: COEXIST. Coexisting sounds like a great idea. I fully support the peaceful philanthropy that Bono has encouraged, and this seemed like another way that he was trying to spread the message.Maybe we've put Bono too high on our list... or maybe it's something else that doesn't belong there. You know what it is for you, don't you?
Except, it started to feel like more than a political message. The “C” in “coexist” was the Islamic crescent moon, the “X” was the Star of David, and the “T” was the cross of Christ. Bono pointed at the symbols on his headband-first to the cross, then to the star, then to the crescent moon-and he began to repeat: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true.”
He repeated the words like a mantra, and some people even began to repeat it with him. I suddenly wanted to crawl out of my skin. Was Bono, my supposed brother in Christ, preaching some kind of universalism? In just a few seconds, I went from agreeing with him about Christlike “coexistence” to being creeped out by the ungodly, untrue thing he was saying. What’s going on here? What if he believes that all ways are the same, and he just thinks of Christianity as his particular way? Aren’t universalism and true Christianity mutually exclusive?
I’ve heard the urban legends of amazing things Bono has said about his faith, I’ve read the books, and I’ve peered deep into everything he’s said hoping to find something that makes his beliefs clear. For years, I’ve adored him and clung to the notion that he is believer, too. After all, he identifies himself with Christianity, doesn’t he?
When he stated that lie so boldly, it devastated me. It was, without question, the most disturbing experience of my life; I felt like I’d been covered in bile. As I looked around, I saw all the people standing and chanting with him-it was disgusting and beautiful all at once. Unity can be so enticing. It made me think of the one world religion and how that will probably look benign and beautiful from the outside, too. I even started to wonder if universalism just might be poised to be that religion. All these things were running through my head.
After the show, I ran into a friend who had been sitting in the back row. “What did you think of that headband thing?” I asked. “Well, I couldn’t hear what he was saying because it was bouncing off the wall behind me, and I couldn’t read the headband, because I wasn’t near a JumboTron. But honestly, I felt like I was witnessing an antichrist.” I stood frozen as she spoke. I’d had the same feeling.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that Bono is the Antichrist. Perhaps he’s just guilty of being overzealous about his politics. But I hope that if he is a believer, the Holy Spirit will convict him that equating Christianity with other religions is false prophecy. 2 Timothy 3 tells us to avoid people who have a form of godliness but deny the true power of God. And I believe that the most deceptive thing of all is to identify yourself with the truth and preach a lie.
For a long time after the show, I couldn’t talk about it. And I still don’t know what to think because I don’t know Bono’s heart. All I know is what he said from that stage and how it shook my footing. God used that to show me something ugly in myself that needed to be fixed. It felt like He was saying, “If you’re looking to Bono, you’re looking to the wrong place.”
The reality is that Bono held too high a place in my heart. And I don’t think I’m alone there. I’ve wrongly held him up as the heroic ideal-the cool representative for Christianity; he may have been my “Christian idol,” but he was my idol nonetheless. And that’s not OK. Yes, it should bother me to think that Bono might not be a believer; but it should not bother me any more than if a random guy on the street does not believe.
I pray for Bono more lately, and I pray for the hearts of the millions of people who he impacts on a daily basis. He is, without question, the most influential person in the world, and he has an unparalleled opportunity to speak the truth to the lost world. This year alone, he was nominated to be the president of the World Bank, and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And by the time the Vertigo Tour ends in April, it will have grossed twice as much as any political campaign anywhere, ever. If Bono has a saving faith in the one true God, I can only hope that he would speak the Truth without ambiguity. I pray that the name of Jesus would grace his lips, without being equated with Judaism or Islam or any other religion. And I’m praying that God will help me to put things in the right place in my heart.
Maybe it's time we bend a knee (again?), believe, and receive the only prize that really matters.
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)
"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:9)