When I tell people this, they looked shocked, “How could you hate a show that builds homes for deserving families and individuals?!” Well, there’s a method to my madness and, of course, it has to do with some theological hangup about the show.
See, God’s grace is given to all without reservation for the taking. He doesn’t qualify his grace based on performance. But, like the show, neither does he qualify it on basis of need. What I can’t stand about “Extreme Makeover” is that fact that those who are given homes are those that the producers believe deserve those homes. Not only does kindness or sacrifice merit a home in that show, hardship and tragedy also becomes some kind of sick qualifier for benevolence. So, part of the show is dedicated to explaining the producers’ reasons for choosing a particular group on which to bestow grace…in this case, a new home. They play God.
I’ve had people tell me, “I just ‘see Jesus’ in that show” or “Isn’t that just how God is?” Luckily for me (and you), God is not like that. He extends grace to everyone regardless of economic status, race, gender, cultural relevance, or any other ridiculous qualifying criteria. He even extends grace to those who don’t think he exists or that his grace is in any way helpful to them. But that doesn’t matter – God extends it unconditionally. Without condition or reservation.
So what would “Extreme Makeover: God Edition” look like? Well, it would include a host of respectable and sordid characters. Philanthropists next to misers, Christians next to atheists, American soldiers next to radical jihadists, downtrodden tenants next to slum lords, and every other group of people you can think of. Yet, when the bus rolls back…they all receive houses beyond their wildest dreams. What’s more, they are all given the same blood red key. Each one, regardless of whether anyone else believes their lifestyle merits the gift. And you see the them all walking towards their houses, some cursing God and others thanking him, deciding whether or not to stick the key in the door. Repulsive idea, huh? Not to God.
Truthfully, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is not about the people receiving the homes. It’s not even about the viewing audience or how much tugging on heartstrings translates into ratings. That show is solely for the benefit of those who create it. Ultimately, those who determine who deserves a home and who doesn’t aren’t concerned about anyone but validating their own criteria of worth. They are more concerned about feeling good about themselves and how such qualified giving seems charitable. But it’s really self-love. A “wrap-around” form of self love, but self-love nonetheless. Most charity in our world is for the giver rather than the receiver.
God works the other way around. He gives to overflowing first, then out of that overabundance, we are to give to others. If we give out of our own limited love, we will always run dry or expect something in return. But if we let God love others through us, we will never exhaust his love for others, even those we think they don’t deserve it. But more importantly, we’ll share unqualified love with those we do think deserve it. And that place everyone in the same category: unconditionally loved by God.