Oh how much I fear being categorized as irrelevant. How can I possibly reach the world around me if I am not pop culture savvy? How can I relate to youth when I am largely ignorant of a 50 year old singer? I didn't know how to prove my "hipness" but then I found this . . .
Who would ever think of combining John Piper's teaching on the doctrine of depravity with the musical prowess of Michael Jackson? Is this blog now certified "relevant"?
Michael Jackson is a hot topic right now with the mystery surrounding his recent death. The blogosphere is running hot with gossip and innuendo. But the reason I am posting about Michael Jackson is that there are practical lessons for Christians to learn about the loving and biblical way to respond to tragedy, especially of the celebrity kind.
To be sure I have always found it hard to fathom why a good looking African-American man would want to alter his appearnace in that way. And I would certainly steer my children away from listening to his music because of the sexual and humanistic content. But to pretend to know whether Michael Jackson is in heaven or hell right now is both foolish and futile. Only God knows that. Though the outward evidence leaves a very bad prognosis, we can fly a flag of hope that Michael Jackson repented and trusted in Christ just prior to his untimely death. The repentant thief on the cross always shines as a torch of hope for seemingly doomed sinners. God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) and neither should we . . . or have you forgotten about the sewer of sin that God rescued you from?? In seasons of grief we should avoid speculation, hope for the best, and be ministers of love.
A second thing we can focus on is allowing tragedy to remind us of the brevity of our own lives. That we all stand on the knife edge of eternity - always one less heartbeat away. Ask people if they know where they are going when they die and springboard into the Gospel.
The third thing to remember, and avoid, is something that is happening right now among certain professing Christians, and that is trying to claim Michael Jackson as a part of the Body of Christ with no biblical evidence to support this. I did say that we can fly a flag of hope - but it is another thing altogether to fly a flag of false hope.
From Rick Warren's Saddleback church we have the comments of David Pack who is "a Grammy winning recording artist, producer, and music director. A member of Saddleback Church, he works with Rick Warren on special projects, including the PEACE Plan and AIDS & Worship Conferences." I can scarcely believe David Pack's brazen boldness in declaring to all the world with astonishing certainty that:
If there’s anything that gives me peace during this moment of loss, it’s knowing that one of the greatest artists of our time is now moon-walking along the gold paved roads of heaven, where streets have no name, with a broad smile on his face, and a band of angels welcoming him home. Michael, my friend, rest in heavenly peace.
And what does Pack base his "divine knowledge" on?
During that special evening, I felt the need to share my faith with him, to let him know that another Christian artist was sitting next to him. So when he whispered, “How can I ever thank you for this wonderful night?” I said, “Michael, I didn’t put this together, God did!” He said, “Oh yes, I believe that with all of my heart.”
I told him I was a Christian, and he said he was, too. We talked about the first Christian song we’d both heard as children: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.” With the dinner party loudly going on around us, we both quietly leaned in and sang the song, smiling like choirboys. “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.” Then we gave each other a short embrace.
I knew at that moment that this sweet-spirited young genius was going to find his eternal peace in heaven.
David Pack's insight, or lack thereof, is disturbing on so many levels. How can a vague conversation like that give any indication as to a clear understanding of the Christian Gospel or outward evidence of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit? What about the HUGE question mark this leaves over Pack's grasp of the Gospel? Why would Saddleback want to give Pack a public profile when he writes such clueless and damaging nonsense? What about Michael Jackson's Jehovah's Witness background or his well publicised conversion to Islam? What about the VERY disturbing public behavior? What about the blatant sexual and humanistic themes in many of his songs? Why is it that a member of Rick Warren's church with a public profile would fail to factor all these issues into the equation? Like I said earlier, fly a flag of hope that he repented and trusted the Savior. But don't do a David Pack and try to play God!
Tragically, Pack is not alone in his recklessness. In a postmodern era where uncertainty is so strongly espoused, I am stunned by the certainty with which they know such mysteries.
God gave Michael Jackson 50 years to repent and trust the Savior. We can only hope that his final fragments of human strength were spent fleeing to the Savior who is rich in mercy and longsuffering of our wickedness.