It was just reported that Michael Jackson has died after going into cardiac arrest. During this time our hearts, as Christians, go out to the family and his children. To reflect on such an event as a believer is sobering to say the least. To reflect on the death of anyone would do the same, but there seems to be something extra when it is a person like Michael Jackson. To imagine that even kings, even if they were just the “King of Pop,” will one day stand before the King of kings, should cause us all to pause and reflect for a moment on our lives.
Scripture tells us that it is appointed once for a man to die, then the judgment (Heb. 9:27). All men, even those who seemed to have the world by the tail for a time, are subjected to it. What is more troubling for the Christian who considers such an event, is to see how many people are still clamoring to have what Michael had at the height of his fame, knowing that many fail to see how quickly these kingdoms will come crashing down.
There is no doubt that fame has engulfed many to the point that it seems to have consumed them, and it should not be surprising when we consider that scripture tells us that “the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest” (Isa 57:20). Even if we end up with all that we dreamed of in this world, unless Christ is our treasure we will not find the rest that seems to be eluding us (Matt. 16:26). In fact, we often impale ourselves with many troubles as we pursue it (1 Tim 6:10).
There is a restlessness in the human heart as Augustine pointed out when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” This restlessness comes from the fact that there is a knowledge of God written on our hearts, and in our sinfulness we want nothing to do with it (Rom. 1:18-20). It is from this point that our pursuits for peace take us everywhere except the one place we would be able to find it.
In our sinfulness we reject God, knowing that we have violated his ways (Rom 1:32), and to cover up that knowledge, we tend to work even harder to find things that can distract us from that truth. In it we tend to go further and further down a path of vanity, for all is vanity apart from Christ (Ecc. 1:2).
From here we create our own standards of what we think a good person ought to be, but even by our own standards we fail to measure up. Only by deceiving ourselves are we able maintain any level of respectability and righteousness. Often during these pursuits, we find ourselves engaging in all kinds of aberrant behavior simply trying to measure up to our own standards. In it, we are clinging to our own righteousness in order to appease the God we know is there. For many, even in their suppression of the truth, will create a God to their liking and will try to appease him (Rom 1:23), but the God of scripture tells us that all our righteousness is like filthy rags, and he wants nothing to do it them (Isa. 64:6). But, praise God, He then goes on to tell us of the remedy that he has offered in Christ Jesus for all of us have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Rom. 3:23) . You see, God the Father sent his son to die upon the cross to bear the punishment for all who will believe in Him (John 3:16) in order to bring us into a right relationship with Him and give us the peace we are seeking.
As was mentioned before, it is appointed once for a man to die then the judgment, but the only way anyone will be able to stand in the judgment is if they are in Christ, because he is the only one who has lived a truly righteous life and paid the penalty for our sins (Acts 4:12), and if we are not in Christ we will have to pay our own penalty for sins. This truth applies to all men and women, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown, loved by the world or not.
To paraphrase John Donne, when we hear that someone has died and we wonder for whom the bell tolls, there is a sense in which it will always be tolling for us. It is a constant reminder of our own frailty, telling us to be cognizant of our own end, and to ponder what awaits us afterward, and whether or not we are living life the way it should be lived; to the glory of God (Psalm 39:4).