Gaining the Whole World

Michael Jackson, like Princess Di, a number of media sources said, gained the whole world. He transformed music and dance, not just in the US, but in the whole world. An icon, some called him. Or a king. Even a hero.

Hundreds gathered to … mourn. Thousands remembered.

Musicians and dancers credited him with inspiration. Fans and friends bemoaned his passing.

Network TV suspended regularly scheduled programming to air tributes and exposes and old interviews and neighbor reactions

Farrah Fawcett wasn’t far behind in popularity. Not an icon, but a pinup girl, she was acclaimed for her trend-setting hair style, her incredible smile, her marriage, divorce, long-time love relationship, her posters, TV show and movie, Emmy nominations, and courage. Courage to face and fight … death. Or maybe it was courage to face life knowing that she was dying, I’m not sure.

But there’s the point. No matter how loved, or hated, how popular, or forgotten, no matter how much talent or money or influence, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died. They had gained the whole world. We know that, but the ultimate question remains. Did they lose their souls?

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? ” (Matt. 16:24-26, emphasis mine)

So what do these deaths tell us? In no special order:

    1) Even the rich and famous and beautiful die.

    2) No one is guaranteed a set number of years. Farrah Fawcett was 62, Michael Jackson, 50.

    3) Life apart from God may look glamorous for a time, but there is no glamor in death.

    4) Cosmetic surgery doesn’t preserve life, and neither do cancer treatments. There is a time appointed for man to die, and our finite understanding of science and life won’t reverse that. Death is the promised consequence of sin. It’s as true today as it was day one, post-Eden.

    5) God is sovereign. He will not be mocked and He won’t be replaced. Kings and icons and heroes and pinup girls are false gods our culture scurries after. In the end, God will be God.

    6) Entertainers have taken the place of great thinkers and wise leaders.

    7) Being good at what you do, doesn’t guarantee your legacy will be positive. The Michael Jackson remembrances included his oddities as well as his genius. Farrah Fawcett remembrances included her broken relationships as well as her awards.

    8 ) If you gain the whole world but lose your soul, what have you really gained?

    9) God, in His incredible mercy, did not leave us in hopelessness.

    10) Following Jesus still equates with finding life—the most important kind: life eternal.

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