I typically don’t watch the Oscars, but I have daughters who do. Being in Israel, they have to wait until morning to see who won what. And we live in an apartment, and my office is the kitchen table.
So when Matthew McConaughey won best actor, I jumped over to take a peek. And let’s be honest: M.M. is the epitome of cool. He makes Fonzie look like a nerd. He is kind to fans and recently fell over a guardrail seeking to take selfies with adorers. I like him.
In his acceptance speech, he shared, “First off, I want to thank God, because that's who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.”
Facebook lit up. Twitter went nuts! Believers were thrilled to see McConaughey mention the G word in Hollywood’s most holy temple.
I hate to be a party pooper, but I wasn’t that impressed. Don’t get me wrong—it is a whole lot better than saying, “I want to thank Satan,” or, “Let’s face it—I did this all on my own. There’s no God.”
Still, the word God is nebulous. The God of the Bible actually has a name—Yahweh. The question is, to whom was Matthew referring? Man, if he had said, “First off, I want to thank Jesus,” that would have been different. That is firm. That is clear. Jesus is the Messiah who died for our sins. But the word God can refer to an idol or another religion or simply be an acknowledgment that He is there. Again, that's very different from actually knowing Him.
McConaughey went on to say that his hero is himself in 10 years. That was a little weird. Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Graham, George Washington—those are heroes. Actors play them in movies, but they are not them. Actors are not heroes. Idols, yes. Heroes, no.
Then he said, “To my father, who I know is up there right now with a big pot of gumbo, he has a big lemon meringue pie over there. He's probably in his underwear and has a big can of Miller Lite, and he’s dancing right now. To you, Dad, you taught me how to be a man.”
Don’t get me wrong. I was moved by the man's love for his dad, but to envision heaven as a place where men walk around in their underwear drinking beer gives us a little bit of a glimpse of McConaughey’s God. I’m not hatin’ on the man—nor do I think drinking a beer is a sin. I am just saying that we should be praying for his salvation, rather than assuming a brief mention of God in Hollywood is the fruit of salvation.
Now, if McConaughey had broken out into song, singing, “My Eye Is On the Sparrow” like award-winning backup singer Darlene Love did—well, that would have been something. She seemed to exude the presence and was determined to be a witness. This was the moment Twitter should have been blowing up over!
To be clear, only God knows what is in a man’s heart, and I am not here to judge McConaughey’s salvation. I am simply saying that if we are getting goose bumps because an actor mentions the word God, we have set our sights way too low.
Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.