|What Michael Jackson Taught Us About Life|
(By Chris Long)
As pretty much everyone knows, Michael Jackson passed away in 2009. I never really was a big fan of his music. Back in the early 90's, I did like a few of his songs (he certainly knew how to write some catchy songs!), but I was never really a huge fan and these days I tend to not listen to that type of music anyway.
But I was absolutely saddened in my heart the day he passed - crying actually - when I turned on the t.v. and they were saying that he had just been rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. I started praying up a storm that the Lord would draw Michael unto Himself into a relationship with Him. My heart was absolutely grieved for him with the love of the Lord, even though (a) I never really liked his music much, (b) I always thought he was "odd", (c) there were a few allegations of child sexual abuse over the years. I can't entirely explain it, but my heart grieved for Michael and my spirit certainly was groaning inwardly.
At the time I was praying, while I didn't realize it, he had already likely been gone for some time. I don't know Michael Jackson's heart and I certainly hope that he came to know Jesus Christ (maybe even in the last moments) and get on peaceful terms with God. However, I suspect that my groanings internally were, at least in part, an outgrowth of the tragedy of the whole thing - of Michael's whole life.
I won't go into the details of his life here - most of us already know many of them. We know of his early musical career with his family, the allegations of abuse at the hands of his father as a young boy, his rise to superstardom as a solo artist - becoming the "King of Pop" selling gazillions of albums, his descent into odder and odder behavior (one word: Bubbles), his intriquing and strangely odd appearance changes, and allegations of sexual abuse at his hands on two different occasions.
Certainly an ironic life. On the one hand, enormously successful in the world's eyes, and yet clearly disturbed internally.
After his death, all the t.v. commentators did what we would expect: Analyze and re-analyze his life and bring out all the world's "experts" (i.e. psychologists, etc.) to explain things to us. Might I suggest that there are some very simple things that we can learn from his life. It really isn't all that complicated.
Michael Jackson's life screams out to a Christ-rejecting world in a powerful way. It screams out: You can be "King of Pop" - beloved by millions - and still be internally miserable because of a lack of peace with God - and die and have to face the "King of Kings" - the "King of All"!
It is interesting that he died on the same day as Farrah Fawcett, and shortly after Ed McMahon. Together, these 3 celebrities show us very VERY clearly that you can have all the world's riches (gazillions of dollars), be adored by millions of screaming fans, enjoy all sorts of excesses, and that it all means absolutely nothing on that day when you die and have to meet your Maker.
There are countless people who think that they would like to be a superstar. They would love to be rich and be adored by lots of people. We all have a desire for "significance" and many people think that if other people are wooing over them, that means they are truly significant and successful and loved. Most kids/teens today have aspirations along these lines - many girls in recent years for instance have that strong desire to be like a Miley Cyrus or a Britney Spears. Honestly, they just plain don't realize the horrible, horrible trap that exists in that. They only see the money, the power, the "love" (what they THINK is love, anyway - which isn't love at all). They don't see the heartache, the lack of anyone you can really trust, the lack of anyone that really loves you deep down for just who you are - and isn't just around you because of your money, the use and abuse by others, the temptations galore. A horrible, horrible trap, this thing called "fame".
You know, they say that even though Michael Jackson made millions and millions and millions of dollars, he was basically "insolvent" at the time of his death. Isn't that incredible? Between his ridiculously excessive lifestyle and legal fees, he basically was living on borrowed money. Incredible. It reminds me of another celebrity, M.C. Hammer, who in the early 90's had it all - millions of dollars, women, power, etc. When he lost his money due to his excessive lifestyle, he found out that all the people who were around him that he thought were his friends suddenly deserted him. They didn't love him at all. They loved his money and what he could do for them. And that was a driving force in Hammer's life to help bring him to his senses - to the REAL meaning of life and to the One who made him. Hammer found out the hard way that all of the fame and money doesn't really matter in the end and that it can actually be a horrible stumbling block in keeping you from what REALLY matters.
Sadly, Michael Jackson found that out too - only in his case - we have less hope that he actually realized this before he had to stand before his Creator.
We can't do anything about Michael - what's done is done. Oh how my heart longs to have been able to just spend 10 minutes with him and share with him the love of Jesus Christ that he may or may not have ever seen or heard from others tangibly in his life. But alas, that wasn't to be (and would have been "impossible" by human terms anyway given his sheltered existence). He is gone and he will have to answer for his life before God. But we CAN do something about our lives knowing full well that one day we also will leave this earth and will stand before God.
Yes, you can be rolling in the money, be "King of Pop", and yet be miserable due ultimately to lack of peace with God - and have to face the "King of ALL" on that day when you breathe your last.
God loves each person on this planet. He made this world perfectly but we humans mucked it up by choosing to sin against God. He gave us choice to choose to love and obey Him or to disobey Him (sin) and we chose the sin. And sin has been in the world ever since. If we're honest, each of us knows that since we were born, we've sinned more times than we can count.
But God wasn't about to just throw up his hands on us God-rejecting humans. No, He loved us too much. Because God is perfect and holy and just, He couldn't just ignore our sin. There had to be a punishment - a penalty. And yet, we could not pay the penalty because we are the imperfect offenders. But God loves us so much and wants us to be with Him forever so much that He Himself paid the penalty. God the Son came to the earth as Jesus Christ to live the perfect sinless life that we could not live and then was killed unjustly by sinful humans. In doing so, he paid the penalty for all our sin and made the way whereby the broken fellowship is restored. It was the most loving act ever!
And yet, there still is that element of choice, because we still can choose to want Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin or not. If we choose to try to come some other way, God will, in sadness, let us try. But in so doing, we will come up short on that day when we stand before Him - and it will be a horrible tragedy as we are cast from His presence. No amount of good works could ever eliminate even 1 sin against God, let alone thousands upon thousands. But, God has provided the way for our sin to be forgiven. All we have to do is accept that gift and believe it in faith. Once we do that, we come to the place where we have peace with God because the broken fellowship has been restored. Romans 5:1-2 says "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." We only will ever have peace with God by humbling ourselves (letting go of our pride) and admitting that we are sinners in need of a Savior and beliving in faith that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin.
Michael Jackson may not have had that peace. But he isn't here any more.
The question now is: "Do you?"
Jesus said: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:16-18)
May we all examine our own lives, humble ourselves before the REAL King - King Jesus - and admit that real life is only found in Him. If you've been living your life in sin - living for pleasure, for money, for fame, and have never repented of your sin and turned to Jesus Christ to save you (from yourself!), what better time than now?
All it takes is simple faith. You can pray this prayer and if you do so in humble faith, God will meet you in that:
"Lord Jesus, I admit and confess that I am a sinner. I have done bad things and have hurt myself and others. I have been living for wrong reasons and bought the lie that I would be happy if I only had enough of what the world has to offer. I now realize that the world cannot satisfy me because it can't address my deep spiritual need of having peace with You. I believe Jesus that You came into this world and lived a perfect life to die for me and pay the penalty for my sin. I thank you for that and I receive your free gift of eternal life. Please forgive me of my sin and come into my life today. Fill me with your peace and help me to live rightly. Set me right with You. I proclaim that you are the King of ALL - and that you are the only King that really matters. Amen."
With Christ's love,
This is version 1.3 of this document (Oct 10, 2015).
This document is provided as a ministry outreach via Laugh & Lift. http://www.laughandlift.com