Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. –1 John 2:15
“We’ve lost yet another star … hero … icon.”
I was in Los Angeles the day Michael Jackson died and recall how the news of his death paralyzed the city, even the nation.
Then Prince died. Then Billy Idol. Then George Michael. Then Carrie Fisher. Each time, social media exploded with comments and viewpoints about how unfair life is, that the year had claimed too many good people, that they were too young to be taken from us. Instagram pictures were quickly created and posted with warm condolences — yes, even by Christians.
As I read them, I was fascinated by the outpouring of emotions from Christians when famous actors, musicians or entertainers die. It seems we overlook their lifestyles, characters or beliefs as we eulogize them and exude our support. Even though they lived and championed immoral lifestyles, mocked Christianity or openly rejected religion, we parade their good qualities, relive the awards, milestones and recognition they received in their lifetime, then post their music, lyrics or movie themes in our social media streams with beautiful “RIP” comments.
Please understand, I am not being cold-hearted or judgmental. Death can be a somber, tragic, irreversible event with eternal ramifications; every person’s passing should be mourned. People are destined to die, then to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). I do not know for certain the spiritual condition of the famous people who have passed on. But in Luke 6:44-45, Jesus said what’s inside a person, at their core, generally comes out. All we can observe is the “fruit” of their lives — what they said, how they acted, and what they promoted in their lifetimes.
The Apostle John tells Christians not to love the world or anything in the world — meaning don’t get sucked into or swept away by its cultural decay. If we do, God says His love is not in us. Instead of our nostalgic support and warm condolences, let’s look through the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Yes, it breaks His heart when someone passes into eternity without Him. Yes, it breaks His heart when someone lives a lifestyle rampant with drug abuse, violence and sexual immorality. Yes, it breaks His heart when I hold on to some hidden, secret, sinful habit and do not repent. In addition, it saddens Him when I stunt the transformation He wants to perform in my life.
But as children of God, our affections should be on heavenly things. We are not of this world. We are sheep from a different pasture. We are citizens of a different realm. We are instructed to “look at the heart,” not the outer appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). Our taste buds should desire a much more heavenly flavor, regardless of the dramatic movie, pulsing music, iconic lyrics or earthly awards won.
Instead of publicly expressing horror, grief and heartbreak for those who lived in blatant opposition or rejection of God and His moral standards, I choose to celebrate the earthly saints who honored God in their lives and lifestyles, who through heart-wrenching adversity, stayed true to their faith in God and who, in their final moments, loved their families and said tearful goodbyes until they are reunited in heaven.
If you are looking for great examples, look no further than George Beverly Shea, Joey Feek, Cliff Barrows or Tim LaHaye. Very few people posted anything about their passing, yet they are examples of people who Christians should honor, wishing them peace as they take their eternal rest in the arms of Jesus.
C’mon, church: Let’s stop being swayed by the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. Let’s stop praising the worldly icons, those who promote sinful lifestyles, those who subtly deceive and destroy through twisted perversions and abuse, those who publicly denounce God, Jesus or anyone who believes in Him. Mourn for them, yes. Better yet, mourn their poor examples, their lack of faith in Christ and the sinful influences they promoted.
Yes, death comes to all. Let’s celebrate those people of faith who lived in God’s victory, who advanced God’s kingdom. Better yet, let’s imitate them.