Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts On The Death Of Michael Jackson

The sudden, unexpected passing of the 50-year-old, legendary king of pop, Michael Jackson, has dominated the news for over 2 weeks now.

This entertainer, known for his singing and dancing, wealth, facial surgeries, child molestation charges and bizarre behavior, was quite a celebrity. His death has brought millions of fans out of the woodwork and created a media frenzy that has seemingly left no detail of his life and tragic exit unturned and unreported.

Tired of hearing about it all? I understand. But as Christians we need to attempt to put this recent happening in perspective in the light of God's Word. Some thoughts:
1. Let's not forget that this controversial star was a person created in God's image. We may not
have understood him. There may have been much about him that we didn't like and even
found repugnant, but we need to be careful in the way we talk about him. James 3:9 cautions
us about speaking disparagingly about other persons since all of us are made in God's
likeness. Believers certainly should set a higher standard in our discourse about our fellow
human beings, even when we disagree with their actions. Aren't we supposed to be
discerning? You bet. Aren't there times when we must speak out against the wrongs of
another individual? Certainly. But we must converse with grace and restraint. We earthlings
are all in the same boat when it comes to propensity to evil deeds. Christians are just blessed
to have received the electing, forgiving mercy of the Lord to atone for our sins.

2.I wonder about who we are choosing to be our heroes these days. Mr. Jackson had millions of
adoring admirers worldwide who lapped up his albums and fawned and shrieked and cried
and applauded over him in his concerts. Though obviously talented, was he really the
greatest entertainer of all time? Some have even implied that he was the greatest person
to have ever lived. It concerns me that nowadays we tend to elevate rock stars and
Hollywood folks and athletes to the status of heroes simply because they titillate us or make
us laugh or give us a good show. Our kids are learning to swoon over these fascinating people
despite their moral or ethical or serious psychological lapses. They can roll off film titles and
sports stats and song lyrics but can't remember more than 3 or 4 of the Ten Commandments
or name 5 of the 12 disciples or list 3 of the fruits of the Spirit or recite the Lord's Prayer.
Sadly, significant persons like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford,
and Ronald Reagan are getting lost in the shuffle as young people today swarm around
dazzling media sensations instead.

Yes, I know. Regrettably, the preachers and the politicians and the corporate executives,
those people we used to look up to as moral exemplars and patterns of success, have often
let us down. One scandal after another involving those types has set our heads spinning and
deeply disappointed us and left us wondering if there are any heroes to be found anymore.
Maybe that's part of the reason why young people have gone off after shallow,
lowest-common-denominator, intellectually challenged, often morally bankrupt pop icons to
talk endlessly about and seek to emulate. It must seem to our kids that at least with those
scintillating personalities there is no hypocrisy.

I keep coming back to Psalm 101, though. There David discusses the standards he has
personally set for those he will admire and those he will reject as potential role models.
Verses 4 and 6 are particularly helpful. I believe that in our day there are still persons out
there who are worthy of our respect and honor. People from whom we can learn. Folks who
can stimulate us and motivate us to be all that we can be. Individuals who don't tantalize us
and make us feel good but rather stretch us to reach higher and be more than we are now.

3.After what I've observed during these 2 weeks of hype over Michael Jackson, it's easy for me
to see how an Antichrist figure could arise in the future and be well received. Watching clips
of Jackson's old concerts where crowds are worked up to near hysteria, screaming, shouting,
crying, arms-in-the-air, and then witnessing the adulation and almost worshipping of this
man following his death, it's a little clearer to me how someone with charisma, offering hope
and peace and unity, and displaying extraordinary skill, could manipulate and entice a whole
generation of searching, empty people. The Book of Revelation, the first epistle of John, and 2
Thessalonians 2 seem to speak of a coming world ruler, evil to the core, who will mesmerize
the nations and lead them in opposition to Christ. Revelation 13 even describes his being
worshipped. Sound far-fetched in our sophisticated era? You been to a rock concert lately?

Sure. There are lots of differing interpretations on the Book of Revelation and endtimes
prophecy. I'm just saying that if the futurist view is the correct one, what we are seeing
these days may be the precursor and laying the groundwork for a soon-coming scenario
where an Antichrist could be readily accepted and embraced. Mr. Jackson's style and
approach was simply entertainment but isn't it possible that his enchantment was one more
step along the way of molding and shaping minds to psychologically get to the place where it
would be acceptable to wholeheartedly welcome someone in the future who would come
forward on the international scene with great promise...and great promises? Someone
pledging wonderful things for the world while defiantly rebelling against God?

4. We can only hope that Michael knew Christ before going out into eternity. Now we ought to
pray for his family, especially those children. Many heartaches and decisions and
uncertainties lie ahead for them.