Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The King of Pop and the King of Lords

Some reflections on last week: Our culture likes to celebrate individuals for a variety of reasons. Last week four celebrities died. Of course the truth is many more humans died but they are nameless to us except for their families and friends. But four made the news. Yet one person seemed to have made the most news and that was Michael Jackson, "the King of Pop"! Michael Jackson is close to my age. Farrah Fawcett is close to my sister's. But there was a lot of news on Michael. People gathered in streets dressed like him and playing his music. According to the talking heads, he believed he could be the king of pop just like Elvis was "The King" his former father-in-law. Interestingly, their fate was similar, a premature death with only their music to live on.

Unfortunately, too many people believe this is immortality. But this is not real immortality. I was struck by the truth of our First Reading yesterday from Wisdom:

God did not make death,
And he does not delight in the death of the living.
For he created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them,
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
For righteousness is immortal.
God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

In the image of his own eternity! Do we realize that? God is eternal and we are created in the image of God! But too many members of humankind do not trust that truth and therefore strive for fame. For MJ, three children are now fatherless! Drugs and sensuality is used to avoid the pain of this world rather than trusting in the cross! I was in a meeting this morning where a fellow baby boomer understood that MJ's frequent plastic surgeries was a way to avoid seeing his abusive father in the mirror. No one showed him the image of God that each of us carry!

Today as I ponder the life of the great apostles, Peter and Paul, I realize that many of us miss the point of being on earth. The point is not to try to escape it as the Gnostics would have us believe. The point is to learn to live in the presence of God glorifying Him alone! In this way we attain the holiness that will prepare us for the resurrection of our body. As Rick Warren has said, life on earth is the dress rehearsal for the Resurrection. So we need to put into practice an authentic worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a concept called the Law of Worship which sates, we become what we worship. This is stated in 2 Kings 17:5,

They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them.

When we go after idols, objects of our own making, we worship something not real, hence becoming unreal ourselves. For those of us who grew up with Michael Jackson, we saw this in his features as he used his riches to become something unreal. And how many fans took to the streets to mourn his death? As Christian we need to take to the streets, the marketplace and proclaim Jesus as Lord. Not by proclaiming ourselves as celebrities as we are want to do but as Peter and Paul did. They were martyrs, witnesses to Jesus Christ. Their goal was to share the good news of Jesus to others who would chase after false gods. When they did not succumb to their culture around them, they were put to death. They did not kill themselves. They were put to death for refusing to become false by the idolatries of the world. We should emulate them by putting Jesus first in our lives by our true worship of Him and by expecting others to give up their false selves, their idols, and become real by worshipping Jesus in spirit and truth!

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.