I have never understood opera. My entire exposure to opera until just recently was from Bugs Bunny. Everything I knew about opera was from “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “The Rabbit of Seville”. To go from Elmer Fudd singing “kill the wabbit’ to having opera music on my iPod is an amazing transformation. Sadly, I haven’t gotten more sophisticated or cultured. My budding interest in opera came from an unlikely source.
Today’s iPod shuffle landed on a song that I couldn’t even spell a month ago. The song is called Nessum Dorma and it is from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. Believe me, I had to Google that bit of info. I also found out that the song has been a signature of famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti who, ironically, passed away today. Nessum Dorma is Italian and translates to “let no one sleep”. But the reason this music popped up on my iPod was not the song but the singer. A British mobile phone salesman named Paul Potts has moved me from Bugs Bunny to Puccini.
If you don’t know the story Paul Potts auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent this season. The American version of the show recently finished it’s run with ventriloquist Terry Fator from nearby Mesquite, Texas winning the competition. A friend clued me in to the Paul Potts story. Potts auditioned for the show wearing an ill-fitting sport coat. His appearance was non-descript and his demeanor shy. The judges (including the acerbic Simon Cowell) were openly skeptical when Potts announced he was going to sing opera.
And then he opened his mouth to sing. If you haven’t seen this amazing moment you can click here to watch.
I had chills listening to this unlikely talent sing. And I wondered how often we make the same mistake in the body of Christ that the show judges made in their initial judgment of Paul Potts. We look at the outward appearance and decide. You don’t look the part. You don’t fit the profile. We are looking for someone better looking or more outgoing or more engaging. You could tell from the judges sideways glances that they had already decided about this unassuming man.
And then he opened his mouth to sing.
God has given all of us a vital role in the body of Christ. Lord, forgive me that I have judged your people before I took the time to see how you have gifted them to serve You. Paul (the Saint, not the opera singer) realized that every part of the body is vital.
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12, NLT)
Later in the passage Paul summarizes his analogy.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
It is so easy to value the wrong things. So natural to gravitate toward the funny and the attractive. I am guilty. I am sure that God has put people like Paul Potts in my midst and I looked right past them to someone that is more in my image. I pray that I will be sensitive through His Holy Spirit to look for the gifts and talent in every part of the body of Christ. You will never know how God has gifted one of His Children by simply judging their appearance. Straight-shooter and toe-stomper James says it this way:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (James 2, NLT)
Feel free to be direct, James. But I need to hear that straightforward truth. I pray that I can begin to see the body of Christ as God sees them. Valuable. Worthy. And all one in His Spirit.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.