Owen Wilson’s Meltdown

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn't like Owen Wilson. His quirky smile and off-beat comedic approach has charmed millions, and I'm pretty sure he's the reason his brother Luke has a career. Guys like Owen bring a lighter and classier side to a Hollywood that is generally characterized by a "whose mug shot are we going to see this week?" sort of feel. In an industry knee deep in Lindsay-coke-Paris-jumpsuit-Gibson–rampage stories that churn out with the frequency of summer sequels, Owen seemed the least likely to crash and burn under the stress of stardom and the pressure of tinsel town.

But evidently he did, and his suicide attempt brings shock and confusion to fans all over the world. I heard one reporter from Hollywood put it this way:

"I just can't get my mind around how someone so successful and seemingly happy would do such a thing!"

Did you catch the message behind that statement? In so many words, she is repeating and age old formula that goes like this:

rich and famous = purpose and meaning

It's the "if I only" syndrome that we are bombarded with every day. If I only had x amount of money and success, if I only had a girlfriend like Kate Hudson, if I only had stardom and success and lots and lots of stuff …

Then I would be depression proof! Shazam!

This is why Jesus warned us against that kind of thinking. Not because He doesn't want us to pursue goals or enjoy life, rather because he wants us to pursue the right goals and understand how to enjoy life.

The warning I'm referring to here happened when two brothers who had the "stuff will fulfill my life" mentality came up to Jesus and asked Him to settle their "stuff" argument. Here's what happened:

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)

When Jesus calls someone a fool, it's time to pay attention as to why – especially in this case. The fool here is the one who thinks that fulfillment in life happens when you get everything you have coming to you. A fool is also someone who stores up and heaps up things on the physical side of life, but ignores a relationship with God.

This is why the Hollywood mug shots, meltdowns and mistakes don't really surprise me, because these folks are reacting to what Jesus predicted 2000 years ago. When you reach the top with the outside world but discover you're still at the bottom in your spiritual world, life takes on a hopeless and dark tome that no amount of stardom can fix.

Believe it or not, this is one reason Jesus died on the cross, and it's not like this information is a big secret. See if these words sound familiar to you:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the illusion that life can have meaning and purpose without God. Our Creator loved us too much to fall prey to that lie from the pit of hell, so he sacrificed His Son to save us from hell after we die and hell on earth while we live. You see, eternal life isn't just about the quantity, it's about the quality as well (see John 17:3).

Here's the way a different version of the Bible translates John 3:16 –

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. (The Message).

Get that last part? Anyone can have a whole and lasting life. Wholeness that is impossible to find in fame and fortune on earth, but easy to find in faith and trust in Jesus.

So the next time you get wind of the latest and ugliest crash and burn headlines, remember the greatest headline of all time:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)


Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to lane@dare2share.org.