With the death of two celebrities yesterday, it has been interesting to hear PR statements being released by other famous public figures, expressing their condolences, usually including some spiritual references for Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson as they pass from this life to the next. The comments and hopeful confidences that these folks express are understandable given the public struggle with cancer that Fawcett waged over the last couple of years and the world-wide attention given to the last 20 or so years of Jackson’s stunningly troubled and freakish life.
But what is striking to me is the apparent hope-against-hope, or perhaps better said, misplaced confidence that people have for both of these departed souls. With the acknowledged risk of sounding cruel or piously cynical, I ask a serious and heartfelt question…was there anything about the content of these two people’s lives that would lend support for a hope or confidence that they are now experiencing paradise in the presence of the One True God, as opposed to an eternal continuation of their tortured existences? Is it possible that anything significant might have been missing?
I’ll grant you that I was not a fan or follower of either of these people at any point in my life. Yes, I watched Charlie’s Angels and if memory serves me correctly, I think one of those posters of her wearing that red bathing suit was in my possession at some point in time. And yes, I was familiar with Michael Jackson both when he was a young black man, and through his metamorphosis into whatever it was that he became in the last several years of his life, including apparently a pedophile. Nevertheless, because I did not follow these two very closely, it is entirely possible that I missed some significant announcement about both of them having experienced the life-changing, justifying and regenerating power of God’s grace. However, if that is the case, my lack of having heard about it in life, is now matched by the silence about it in their deaths.
What I do know is that Fawcett and her long time “partner” Ryan O’Neal, effectively thumbed their noses at God with respect to their cohabiting relationship, which produced their troubled son, Redmond. And even though it was reported that O’Neal wanted to marry Fawcett at the end, no such covenant was ever made. Therefore, it is perhaps not unreasonable to assume that repentance for their decades long immoral relationship also never came. And, while news reports indicate that she received “last rites” on the evening before her death, I do not hold to the belief that that alone, apart from a personal confession of Jesus Christ as savior, is sufficient to escape eternal punishment. (I say this with respectful apologies to my Roman Catholic friends, who may believe otherwise.)
As for Jackson, I understand that his family was identified with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Not a good thing! Even if Jacko denounced that counterfeit religion, I am not aware of any confession that he may have made to a belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God along with repentance for the bizarre and perverted choices he made over the course of his lifetime.
I will be the first to acknowledge that our sovereign God may have intervened in these two people’s lives in some miraculous way near the time of their deaths. But there is no possible way for us to know with any degree of certainty if that happened or not. So, for those who want to think “happy thoughts”, that might be a hope upon which one might place more energy than the alternative, which is the secular view that with death, all of this life’s struggles and battles are over, with nothing but peace and tranquility awaiting on the other side. Those outcomes await only those who possess the unshakable assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and Him alone.
And I am sure about that!