Fame and fortune, talent and titillation - whether in life or death, few stars wield Michael Jackson's headline-grabbing power. Initially it was his groundbreaking talent that built a worldwide fan base. But over time, his bizarre behaviors and appearance took center stage in the tabloids and his alledged sex abuse and baby-dangling notariety began to overshadow his music and moon walk.
Jackson's reputation never fully recovered from the 1993 child sexual abuse charges he faced. Realizing that, Jackson longed for a career-changing comeback. His final weeks were filled with rehearsals for his sold out comeback tour. But in the end, his comeback dream evaporated in the blink of an eye. Instead, the legendary King of Pop found himself facing an unexpected appearance before the only audience that matters…God Almighty: The King of the Universe.
How do you rehearse for that?
Good questions. In fact, it may be the most important question you ever ask and answer. And the Bible has some insights for us on the subject. Listen to what Jesus said about sudden death to a dude who was busy expending all his energy accumulating $$$ and the things it can buy:
Then someone called from the crowd, "Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father's estate with me."
Jesus replied, "Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?" Then he said, "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own."
Then he told them a story: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have room for all my crops.' Then he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I'll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
"But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?'
"Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God" (Luke 12:13-21).
Who wants to be called a fool when it comes to what's important in life? So it might be wise to listen up to what Jesus is actually saying here. Here it is: You're a fool if you store up material things, but ignore God's offer of a rich relationship with Him.
So what does a rich relationship with God look like?
According to Scripture, it starts with a restored relationship to God through Jesus' work on the cross. Jesus died to pay the price for the sin of all humankind and restore our relationship with a holy, perfect God. Accepting the free gift of salvation that God offers is the launching point for a deep, rich, personal relationship with the God of the Universe. But the Bible also tells us that God promises us many things when we seek His forgiveness for our sins and accept Jesus' gift of grace. Here are just a few:
• The gift of eternal life with God in heaven (1 John 5:13)
• The right to become children of God, with 24/7 access to our Heavenly Father (1 John 3:12, Romans 8:38-39)
• The ability to tap into God's strength and walk in His power (Acts 1:8, Philippians 4:13)
• The responsibility to be God's ambassadors, representing Him in a lost and broken world and sharing His Good News with others (2 Corinthians 5:20).
If you were suddenly called to appear before the throne of God, would you be prepared? Contrary to what many people believe, God does not take your good deeds and weigh them against your bad deeds and give you a grade as an entrance exam when it comes to heaven. All the millions of dollars Michael Jackson raised and donated to charity during his lifetime, weighed against his bad deeds (which you can be sure God knows the full extent of…), will not be the thing that buys him an admission ticket to heaven. It's only by grace that any of us can receive God's gift of eternal life, not by good deeds. Listen to what Ephesians 2:8-9 says:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
Make sure your friends and family are prepared for the only audience that matters - tell them about the good news of Christ!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Car accident…Suicide…Heart attack… God has numbered our days. You never know when you or your friends may have a sudden audience with the King of the Universe. Are they prepared for the only audience that really matters? Are you? Store up for yourself a rich relationship with God and help your friends do the same.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous (1 John 3:12).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Jane Dratz serves as Editor for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.