Death is funny. Obviously, not in a hilarous way, but funny in a strange sort of way. Although countless people die everyday, we elect some to receive extraordinary dimensions of praise and wonderment. Its like creating a new breed of divinity. A man angel. People gape, wonder after, exalt and believe an individual’s wayward eccentrics on earth qualify them for a seat at the left hand of God. People are quick to slap lily white angel wings on folks when they die. People talk as if Jesus himself will rush to the pearly gates to personally applaud their hero, well, for his earthly “heroics”. Perhaps there’s something in us that secretly hope that when we die, everyone will proclaim our grand –applause accentuated– entrance into heaven, too.
Despite man’s open sins, secret faults and tragic living, people use death as an opportunity to correct it all regardless of what the Bible says. A man’s talent or notoriety becomes his measure of success rather than the sincerety of his relationship with God. So we applaud success while walking very fast past the mirror which depicts the real image of the man.
Black folk are like that about Martin Luther King, Jr. Since his death his picture was always on the wall next to Jesus and John F. Kennedy. As if all three were in some way, equals. But King was a known adulterer, destroying his temple with constant smoking and even denied the virgin birth, a core tenet of our faith. Yet, men worship him as some sort of man-angel.
Man worship is nothing new. Acts 12 records the tragic end of one man whom people unduly exalted.
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
Its there, but we have not learned our lesson. From Saul to Herod to Kurt Cobain to Elvis to Micheal Jackson to Tupac to Obama, the world and the church in far too many cases seem to need a man angel –a god-man– to look up to. Literally, people worship them to death. The expectations of living a god-man status can take its toll in private. The near hysteria over Michael Jackson’s death is puzzling. I expect the world to wonder after its own, but the church is just as caught up. Its appointed unto man once to die, then the judgment (Heb 9:27). That’s the standard right? Everyone will die and Jackson was no exception. I’m not sure of the timeline after death, but he is scheduled to face God at some point. Not as the “king of pop” but as Micheal Jackson. There will be no faux royalty in the presence of The King. Jackson was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, dabbled in Islam and allegedly had a “thief on the cross” experience three weeks before his death. But none of that matters, because after death comes judgment. And judgment is solely in the hands of God.
In context, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by a person’s good works/deeds, but honestly they are still human and are no better than the homeless man laying under the 75/85 connector bridge in downtown Atlanta.
I always find it intriguing and offensive that some Christians would jump at spreading information about a man made idol but won’t tell people about Christ (or their sins) because they’re afraid of offending someone or being fired from their jobs. Some openly profess their devotion to a “star” but are in the closet about Christ. Puzzling.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Mt 10:32,33
We lift people up, iconize and idolize them. But God pulls them down, exposing their humanity, frailties and sins to show us that only HE is worthy to be praised. But the world doesn’t get it. Soon, they’ll find another man to make an angel out of and the cycle will continue.
In conclusion, what is important? Jesus is the only true Savior, every man needs him and indeed without him, they will perish in their sins. That should be the church’s message to all the living, especially those who fancy themselves to be gods walking among mortal men.
Another excellent commentary worth reading —and implementing– is “The Gray Matter of African Americans by A Man from Issachar.