17 February 2024

God’s BAFTA: Winning, competition and unconditionality

Ivan Radford

A photo shows a BAFTA. Picture: BAFTA / Scott Garfitt
Picture: BAFTA / Scott Garfitt

As the BAFTAs are handed out this weekend, Ivan Radford celebrates that God’s love isn’t a prize to be won.

On Sunday night, film fans will be tuning in to BBC One to watch the winners of the 2024 British Academy Film Awards. The BAFTAs, along with the Oscars in a few weeks’ time, are the climax of the annual awards season, which recognises creative artists for their achievements by giving them tiny golden masks and statues. Humans, eh?

This year, two of the frontrunners will need little introduction to anyone who has been near a billboard in the past 12 months: Barbie and Oppenheimer. It’s perhaps telling that two of the most talked about films in recent memory both shine a light on humankind’s capacity to hurt one another, whether through institutional and societal prejudice and bias or through conflict and destruction.

Margot Robbie, the star and producer of Barbie, is nominated for Best Leading Actress at the BAFTAs. However, she has not been nominated for an acting award at the Oscars in March. This sort of situation isn’t new for all kinds of reasons, but Margot Robbie made headlines last week when she gave a strikingly unusual response to the question of her Oscars snub.

‘There’s no way to feel sad when you know you’re this blessed,’ she told a panel at a special awards screening. That remark caught people’s attention because it demonstrated a humility that doesn’t always go with the politics and commerce of awards season campaigning.

I enjoy following the drama of the BAFTAs and the Oscars each year, partly because it’s encouraging to see other people encouraged and celebrated for their talents. It’s important to recognise each other’s value, but it can be so easy to take the fundamentals of awards season and apply them to how we think about others and ourselves. We can be tempted to see being kind to others as a reward for them being kind to us. Or to think of ourselves as being good and therefore deserving of being rewarded.

That transactional, conditional nature of human appreciation is the opposite of how God’s Kingdom works. Because God’s love isn’t conditional or transactional: it’s unconditional. It’s not subject to terms. It has nothing to do with some arbitrary measure of success. God loves you no matter what. God’s love has never failed and will never fail. It’s eternal. It’s constant. It’s a given.

The question we must ask ourselves isn’t whether we deserve this love, but what our faithful response to this love is. Once we’ve accepted our Saviour’s all-encompassing love, as we follow Jesus and seek to become ever more Christlike, we’re compelled to reflect that same love to others. Not based on what other people say or do, but unconditionally.

‘There is no fear in love,’ 1 John 4:18 reminds us. ‘Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’

In a world of money, prizes and reciprocal hurt, we are called to ‘clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’ (Colossians 3:12) so that God’s countercultural love and grace shines through all we do. In fact, compassion is one of The Salvation Army’s values in the UKI Territory. As a territory, that means we all aim to ‘serve with the unconditional love and grace of God as the pattern for our behaviour, with a bias to the poor and marginalised’.

This compassion is something we express – something we feel in our hearts – as a natural result of loving God and living out our faith. Because deep down we know that there’s no way for us to feel sad when we’re this blessed. And we want the whole world to share in experiencing that unconditional love. Beats giving everyone a tiny golden statue, right?

Reflect and respond

  • Read and pray through Colossians 3:12–14.
  • How conditional is the love that you show to others?
  • Is there anyone you need to forgive as the Lord has forgiven you?

Written by

A photo of Ivan Radford.

Ivan Radford

Managing Editor

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