I was raised listening to Michael Jackson’s music. It was the dirty secret I kept locked in my fundamentalist closet growing up. From ABC to Bad to Thriller to Billy Jean I moonwalked time and time again to Jackson’s music in my basement room across the concrete floors.
Michael taught this white boy how to dance. As a matter of fact, I learned so well that I once got offered a job at a concert when the dancers pulled me on stage to embarass me and I outdanced them all.
Sad but true.
But as much as I loved his music I have to admit that he caused me much personal pain. I’m referring to the time I tore my ACL dancing to one of his music videos before I was about to do some visitiation as the preaching pastor of Grace Church in Arvada, Colorado.
Really sad but true.
Another sad but true reality is that Michael is now dead. I am sincerely sorry for that. I was a fan of much of his music, especially the early stuff. But as sad as I am that he died I am much more sorry about how he lived.
It seems to me that he was on a perpetual search for happiness and just couldn’t find it. He built Neverland but it never brought him the happiness that he so desperately longed for. Nothing could. Bubbles couldn’t. Elizabeth Taylor couldn’t. Sold out arenas couldn’t. Hundreds of millions of dollars couldn’t.
He looked for it in the Jehovah’s Witnesses but there was nothing but legalism behind that hollow door of religion. He tried to find it in cosmetic surgery but all he could find was disfigurement. He even tried (and succeeded) in changing the color of his skin. But the white Michael Jackson seemed just as miserable as the black one…if not a little more.
The poor guy couldn’t even think back to the “better times” of his childhood. Why? Because, according to him, even these memories were not good. In one interview he said that when he was a kid he would literally puke when his father entered the room. That’s how terrified he was of his own dad. According to Michael he never had time to play but only to practice. His dad was too busy pushing him and his brothers up the music charts to be worried about Michael having any kind of normal childhood.
Not only was his childhood ruined but, according to many, he ruined some childhoods himself. Whether the allegations are true or not we will probably never really know. What we do know is that the accusations, the court mayhem and the financial payoffs added to the craziness and emptiness that defined the later years of Michael Jackson.
I wish Michael Jackson could have met the real Jesus, not the rule mongering, anti holiday, party pooper Jesus of The Watchtower. I’m talking about the Jesus of the New Testament. I really wish the King of Pop would have met the King of kings. Jesus would have quenched his thirst (see the woman at the well), healed his hurts (see the ten lepers) and changed the color of his soul not his skin. The King of kings could have given Michael a reason to sing and dance (see all the Gospels.)
Michael Jackson, perhaps the most talented musician in the history of humanity, died a tragic death and lived an even more tragic life. But I believe that there is one legacy he left that will make a lasting difference. No, I’m not talking about his music. His biggest legacy to the world is the stark realization that all of the talent and all of the money on the planet can never buy lasting happiness. Why? Because happiness cannot be bought it can only be received from the hands of our Creator, our Savior, our friend, Jesus Christ. When you have him you don’t need best selling albums or an oxygen tent to sleep in. When you have him you don’t need anything.
Now that, my friend, is something to sing about.
Greg Stier is the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. With experience as a senior teaching pastor and in youth ministry for almost 20 years, Greg has a reputation of knowing and relating to today’s teens. He is widely viewed as an authority and expert teen spirituality. He is known for motivating, mobilizing and equipping teens for positive change. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, and the Invicible 08/09 conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org.