Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I want to revisit the saga or circus that was Michael Jackson. It seemed like in the wake of his death everything about his life was amplified! You would have thought that one of the great personages in history had died given the amount of network media attention, the 20,000 who filled the Staples Center, and the millions around the world who watched this on TV. Many of the same people who had vilified him when he was alive ("Wacko Jacko") were eulogizing him in his death. You've got to admit that much of it was way over the top as he was eulogized in word and song by an all-star list of musicians, athletes, and other celebrities. While Michael Jackson was a great musical talent and entertainer, many made him out to have almost "Savior-like" qualities and impact. At best, Michael Jackson was a troubled and tormented soul.

All of this made me question and ask myself what was really going on? It was so over the top that I realized it went much deeper than just our shallow, obsessive, celebrity culture. One of the Reverends who spoke at the funeral said,
"As long as we remember him, he will always be there to comfort us." Excuse me? This is absurd! I have been able to identify 3 things of real importance.

  1. A blatant display of idolatry. Did you know that idolatry is the most frequently discussed problem in Scripture? It's not just some ancient tendency of a pre-enlightened people, but it is the strong penchant in every human heart and a prevalent and pernicious sin. It is not an accident that the 1st commandment says (Ex.20:3) "you shall have no other gods before me." Idolatry is not just some obsolete practice of days gone by, it is the primary sin of the human race! It involves the worship of someone or something other than, different than, or less than the true and living God and Creator. Maybe a few of these quotes will further highlight this problem. Ken Sande said, "An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone or metal. It is anything that we love and pursue in the place of God. An idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on, that motives us, that masters or rules us, or that we serve." Richard Keyes commented, "An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God." He also said, "All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions towards them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God's existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...an idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero----anything that can substitute for God." I believe that the most telling truth about us and idolatry comes from John Calvin. He said, "The human heart is a factory of idols. Everyone of us is, from his mother's womb, expert in inventing idols." This is what we saw on display at Michael Jackson's funeral: not just the grief or sadness over a departed loved one or even a great talent...but, full-on idolatry! I kept hearing references to Michael Jackson as "the King" or "the King of Pop." He might have to get in line for this title because before him I think Elvis Presley was known as "the king." The the NBA gives us Lebron James, better known as "King James." You have a television show and character called "The King of Queens" etc. The difference is I wonder if Michael Jackson came to believe this about himself, that he was "the king." He went so far to name his son, "Prince Michael" so you draw your own conclusions!

  2. A deep heart hunger for worship. What I saw in Michael Jackson's memorial at the Staples Center bordered on a worship service more than a funeral...and it wasn't worship for the real King, the Lord Jesus Christ. To me, it spoke to me and confirmed the fact that man was made to worship. He will worship someone or something. Someone has said, "So long as man remains, he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship." How true! Jesus spoke to the woman at the well and told her (Jn.4:23,24) "The time is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him."

  3. Who or what is truly worthy? Worship and worthy go together, since worship comes from a word meaning "worth-ship." All the saga surrounding Michael Jackson's death simply confirmed to me that I want to live my life knowing who and what is truly worthy (possesses intrinsic value, excellence etc.). This is the truth that reverberates throughout the Book of Revelation and the scenes around the throne of God. (Rev.5:11,12) gives us the picture of an innumerable multitude "saying with a loud voice: worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" The hunger and desires of the human heart can only be quenched by the One who in Himself and all He accomplished for you and I, is worthy! If you don't think this is a major issue, than a little history lesson is in order. In the Roman Empire, one of the political (spiritual) demands was that every resident had to offer a pinch of incense on an altar once a year and declare that "Caesar is Lord." It was more of a matter of formality and governance in such a vast and diverse empire. But, early Christians saw things differently! They realized the spiritual overtones and refused to do so, because only Jesus Christ is Lord. It was a basic question of worthiness.

So just that there's no mistaking at all, the Psalms asks a repeated
question (Ps.24:8-10) "Who is the King of glory?" Everyone will have to answer this question correctly one day. The resounding answer is, "the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle...the Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory." King Jesus is Who it's all about! (Phil.2:9-11) says, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." This verse is one of many that was the inspiration for that great hymn of the church, "All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name." A fitting way to close is to give you a "taste" from this hymn (musicians and singers in the background!). "All hail the pow'r of Jesus' name! Let an-gels prostrate fall: Bring forth the roy-al di-a-dem, And crown Him Lord of all, Bring forth the roy-al di-a-dem, and crown Him Lord of all!" I'm sorry, but I've got to give you a little more, "Let ev-'ery kin-dred, ev-'ry tribe On this ter-res-trial ball, Hail Him who saves you by His grace, And crown Him Lord of all, Hail Him who saves you by His grace, And crown Him Lord of all!"

In our world of great and small, rich and poor, famous and unknown, there is only One who is worthy, and His name is
Jesus! My prayer is that you would have your own coronation ceremony in your own heart and life, and "crown Him Lord of all!"

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