Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (NIV)
Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
This has been a different kind of week for Hollywood. Three well-known stars have passed away. On Monday, Johnny Carson’s long-time sidekick Ed McMahon passed away. On Thursday, original Charlie’s Angel, actress Farrah Fawcett, and King of Pop, Michael Jackson, died within five hours of each other.
Ed McMahon was loved as Johnny Carson’s sidekick for parts of three decades, the role which he will always be remembered for. Why? Because of that strong introduction, “Heeeerrrrrrrreeeeeee’s Johnny!” Ed played the perfect foil to Johnny’s comedy next to him on the couch. After his work with The Tonight Show, Ed became a pitchman. He pitched life insurance and the Publisher’s Clearinghouse. He died while in the midst of financial struggle though as his wife was spending Ed into the ground.
Farrah Fawcett hit the scene as one of three original Charlie’s Angels with Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Farrah left the show after one season and just like her friends, made the transition to made-for-TV movies which made her iconic status differently successful. But it was the posters to which many a young boy in the 70’s placed on his wall will be the top thing she is remembered for. Her final years were painful too as she struggled with cancer, but she came out as a hero and spokeswoman against the disease and even had a documentary made of her travails against the disease. In her final days, she was able to have the man she always loved by her side in Ryan O’ Neal to comfort her.
Michael Jackson made the scene as the little brother in The Jackson 5 in the early seventies, but his solo career hit the highest of heights in 1983 with the release of Thriller. Michael changed how music videos were made with the title cut and seven of his singles went to number one and sold over 21 million records in the United States alone. Once he hit the height, he always struggled to get back there and never accomplished that. That led him to depression and seclusion. In his seclusion, he tried to live the life of childhood that he never really had by creating The Neverland Ranch. I think the name ironic seeing that he never enjoyed that life of a child. In two highly publicized incidents that were accusing him of child molestation, Michael’s life never looked the same to the world. Instead of being the iconic singer that he had been, he now was seen as a horrible criminal and I don’t think he ever was really able to deal with that. In his death, the world will never see the attempted comeback of the man as a singer. In the back half of his life, he was seen as eccentric and thought to be crazy.
If you notice, there are things in each of their lives that I have mentioned. All three had a rise to the top of glamour of Hollywood. All three at one time were loved by pop culture. People raved about them in some fashion. But each, had a fall, be it descending into bankruptcy, disease or depression. Fame is fleeting. However, in death each one was noted for their accomplishments and shortcomings.
The differences were plenty though. Ed died still popularly loved. Even though his personal life was crashing around him, he was loved by culture. Farrah died almost in seclusion. The pain she felt was finally too much, however, she passed knowing the love of her earthly life was with her. Michael died amid controversy that will take weeks to sort out. A life that crashed inevitably on his heart.
The one thing that I have not mentioned is the spiritual condition of these three. One, I knew none of them and would not even want to think about judging where they stood. Secondly, all three will stand before God before going into Heaven or descending into the Lake of Fire. God will be their judge, not media, not Hollywood and definitely not the people that question their hearts.
They were idolized by millions and that may be the question that we have to ask ourselves. Why did we idolize them? I’m as guilty as you. I idolized all three at one point, for different reasons. I saw Michael as the cool rock star that had fame and everyone loving him at his height. How could I have that? I loved Farrah because she was a beautiful woman married to one of my favorite actors in Lee Majors. What would it be like to spend every day with another actor that you loved? That question may have been easier to answer by looking at her years with Ryan O’ Neal than Majors. I loved Ed because he was everyone’s friend. Yes, he had moments of annoyance, but everybody had something nice to say about the guy. He was Johnny’s buddy and wouldn’t we all want to have a friend like that?
I think Michael’s death being met with the most controversy and venom leads to ask the question though. Are we hung up too much on Hollywood deaths? There are some today that talk about Michael as if he were family, loving the years in which he was the pop icon. The other side talk incessantly how this man deserves hell for child molestation that we may never really know that he committed or not.
Either way, the question today is do any of them know Jesus? We will find out and find out how well when we join them at the Great White Judgment Seat after Jesus’ return. Will we find out that our sins are just as bad in the eyes of God? Will we find out that Michael, Farrah and Ed all did the same thing and asked a graceful, forgiving savior to wash their sins away? To that last question, I hope the answer is yes. It’s not about deserving Heaven, I just don’t want anyone to go to that Lake of Fire.
I’ll close with this. King David asked a question in Psalm 24 that we all want to understand as we get closer to heaven. These are verses 3-6.
Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Have a great weekend!
I love you guys!