Estimates are that about 9,500 people die per day in America. That means thousands of special services are carried on daily to honor the departed and ponder our own mortality. When celebrities or iconic figures die we are moved on a national scale to weigh our own brief stay on the planet. But what do we actually ponder and what questions does the death of icons provoke? |
Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon are reported to be Catholic while Michael Jackson was a Jehovah’s Witness and Walter Cronkite was an Episcopalian. Some who belong to these religions may feel assured that because of their respective religious affiliations all is well with each of them.
The Biblical view is that they may have ended up with God after death not because of their religion but in spite of it. The Bible view of salvation is quite explicit and involves no requirement to belong to any specific religion. While that may be a subject for another time it does well to remind ourselves of the thief on the cross who died next to Christ at the crucifixion.
The thief on the cross had no time to be baptized, join a religion or become familiar with scripture but Jesus promised him that he would be with him in paradise that very day. (Lk 23:43) The childlike faith that consented to the belief that Christ was not only innocent but that he was exactly who he was reported to be was all it took. That is still all it takes.
Religion and the faltering reasoning of mankind always create entrance requirements for heaven that is wrong. The Biblical view stands alone to correct this error. The most common belief is that God holds us up daily and places our lives and actions on an imaginary scale to see if our ‘good’ out weigh our ‘bads.’ This paints a picture of God that is ridiculous. He is not that frivolous.
In a phone conversation I had with an old friend in Washington the day after Michael Jackson’s death I was to surprised to hear my friend remark that Jackson must be OK with God because he gave to over 39 separate charities. Having been well taught in scriptures I was amazed to hear my friend use the imaginary scale in the sky idea to console him self about Jacksons death.
Was Jackson redeemed because of his giving and in spite of his connection to a religion that mainstream Christianity often views as a cult, or a life that may have left a lot to be desired? My answer is simply “I haven’t a clue.” If I knew Michael Jackson well enough to say whether he answered the all important Biblical question then I could say with perfect clarity where the soul of the pop icon is at this very moment. I will leave both the question and the answer in the hands of the Almighty for now and I will not presume.
The same rule applies in my thinking as it concerns the rest of the souls of the departed icons who have drawn our attention of late. Regardless of their religious affiliations or the lack of them I can’t say that each of them did not have a moment in time when they asked the all important Biblical question in their own words and in their own way. Only God knows that.
Christians are so worried that Jackson may have slipped away without reckoning with God that they began to believe a rumor floating around the internet that famed singer Andre Crouch and his wife ministered the question to Jackson shortly before his death and he responded positively. A recent report in Charisma magazine dispelled the rumor with a categorical denial from Crouch that anything like that ever happened.
When life’s greatest difficulties are all around me and I ponder my own mortality and the brevity of life I always think on the great question. Yet it is not the question alone that stands as the great comforting thought in my darkest moments. It is the answer I chose to make well over four decades past. So what is the question?
As the Apostle Paul and his young disciple Timothy travelled through ancient Macedonia they stopped to preach the gospel in the city of Philippi. They were well received until they cast an evil spirit out of a young woman who was being used to make prognostications (fortune telling) for two men who made good money for themselves as a result. For this they were thrown into a prison where they were held in chains.
They filled the night with prayer and singing praises to God which resulted in a divine intervention. There was a brief earthquake and the prison doors all flew open. The Phillipian jailer knew that to allow even one prisoner to escape would cost him his own life under Roman law so he was about to kill himself instead of waiting for a sure public execution. Paul seeing what was about to happen called out to the warden and told him that everyone was still present and accounted for and that he should not harm himself.
The Philippian jailer was so moved by the events that he came in and threw himself at the feet of Paul and Timothy and cried “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) This question is to this day the most important question any human being can ask of God. It is the crux of any true relationship with God and it cannot be replaced by religious tenants, conscience giving or imaginary scales in the sky.
The answer given by Paul is the difference between eternal life and eternal separation from God. It is a question that neither regards a person’s status in life, poverty or riches, fame or obscurity or any other condition. Paul said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31) The jailer did believe and his wife and family followed suit.
In the quiet and deeply personal moments of anyone’s life this question is still paramount. It is the question of the ages with an eternal result. What would your answer be?
http://www.americanprophet.org is the place for news, articles, movie and book reviews and other insights for life. Rev Bresciani is a columnist for online and print publications and has over two million readers and counting. Download your copy of Rev Bresciani’s eBook ‘An American Prophet and His Message’ absolutely free at Sword of the Spirit Publishing
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