Michael Jackson is dead at the age of 50. This is a very sad tragedy. He died after a life of seeking acceptance and recognition. He never believed that he was loved and beloved. He was always striving and seeking for that which, even with all his immense talent, he could not earn. His search for love and acceptance drove him to great heights as a musician and great depths as a person of destructive addictions. I wish he could have known the truth.
There is a scene in the movie The ‘Jesus’ film where Jesus is sitting on a bench or wall- hard to tell what- and there are several women sitting next to him. It is an uncomfortable scene to watch with Muslim men here in Gondor. Jesus is completely culturally inappropriate. These women are obviously ‘loose’ women and they are sitting so close to him they are touching him. He reveals no shame or disdain for them at all. On the contrary, he is teaching them about the Kingdom and seems to be enjoying himself. From everything I know about the Gospels this surely did happen. Jesus ate and drank with prostitutes. As I watched this scene with some coworkers recently – all men- I joked that that is fine for Jesus but if any of us are ever found to be on that bench with those women we will be fired! And yet this is the God whom we represent. A God who invites, accepts, welcomes sinners home. His love and his invitation are not dependent on our works, our character, or our understanding. His love is.
We use words to describe God like ‘glory’, ‘majesty’. ‘righteous’ and surely all these words and many more describe Him as accurately as mere words can. But there is so much more to our God. I wish Michael could have understood that he was invited, and accepted, that there was a place for him sitting next to Jesus. I pray that the men and women of Gondor can understand this. It is the only way they can repent and turn from the sin that is killing them. I pray that I could really believe this kind of love and invitation. Can I be welcomed on the bench? Can I sit so close that I touch him? Will he laugh and tell me of his love for me or will I be asked to move over and make room for someone more worthy? Everything about the Gospel revealed in the Bible says that I will be welcomed. Why is that so hard to know and understand? Michael never heard this- even though growing up in America he surely heard it many times. I pray that I will live it much better, much truer, and offer it much more boldly.