To the Word

Reflections on the call to live by the Word of God

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Monday, November 22, 2004

In Praise of the Ed McMahon Condition

Before there was such a show as Star Search, Ed McMahon made his name as a “professional sidekick” next to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. In that role, Mr. McMahon was the subject of an enormous amount of popular humor. Everyone, it seemed, from comedians to the man at work, loved to make fun of Johnny’s yes-man, the perpetual second fiddle. What talent did the man really have, people liked to ask, other than to laugh at Carson’s jokes and occasionally bellow out, “You are correct, sir!”

Despite being the subject of so many jokes, one very important quality redeemed the man who grew rich on Johnny Carson’s coattails. Ed McMahon knew where his little corner of fame came from: from hitching his wagon, so to speak, to Johnny Carson. His bow to Johnny at the beginning of each show, his gleeful laughter at Johnny’s humor—they were sincere appreciation from a man who had benefitted richly from Johnny Carson’s talent. How do we know it was sincere? Because Ed admitted that his success was not due to his own talent. On the second-to-last evening before Johnny Carson left as host of The Tonight Show, an emotional Ed McMahon told Johnny of his heart-felt appreciation for gaining so much fame and fortune through the years simply by being next to the man with the real talent.

Does Ed’s story resonate with you? In a sense, it should. As Christians, we have the ultimate “fortune and fame”— righteousness, the forgiveness of sins, peace with Almighty God who created the universe but knows every hair on our heads. And we didn’t earn any of it. Our salvation, our righteousness, our peace come not through our own goodness but through the gift of God through Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:9). It helps to remember that. If we do, then perhaps our relationship with God will be filled with joyful gratitude. Although we are nothing in ourselves (Rom 7:18), in Christ we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17).

Copyright 2004, New York Avenue Church of Christ


Blogger Doug Floyd said...

Great stuff Milton. What a helpful perspective.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for saying so, Doug. And please forgive me for taking so long to reply. Peace.

6:16 PM  

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