The King of Pop and The King of Glory

"I am the LORD; that is my name!  I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols."  Isaiah 42:8

Ok.  You've seen the title of this entry and you have just looked at the verse I offered up, and you are thinking "I can see where this train is headed."  You are probably right (being as bright as you are), but I hope you sense an evenhandedness in the thoughts I'm presenting.

First things first.  I was actually pretty bummed upon hearing of Michael Jackson's death.  I grew up with Michael.  I wanted to dance like him (though I didn't really have a desire to sing like him b/c I was counting on my voice changing at some point, and the thought of being able to sing that high as an adult worked against my childish ideas of manhood).  His death was felt the world over.  As pop icons go, his death in my generation is like Elvis's death in my parents generation (except for technology that exponentially increases the influence of Michael Jackson's death over Elvis's).  His talent was unquestioned, and he was an artistic and movement genius.  He really was a true pioneer, entertainer, and artist whose contributions to the shaping of pop music culture will never be underestimated.

Like the rest of the world, I was curious as to the way the public memorial service would proceed (but, I didn't see it live - I watched later that night).  It was about what I expected - part reflective, part inspirational, part weird, part celebratory, part celebrity driven.  No real big surprises really.  But there were a few things I was curious about.

First, when his body was brought in to the arena, it was carefully timed to this lyric, "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we are going to see the King."  For those familiar, this is a Christian song by Andre Crouch titled "Soon and Very Soon."  The song is about Jesus - The King of Glory.  For a moment, though, it seemed that the lyric was for the King of Pop.  That was a bit confusing - and disturbing.

Then, toward the close of the service, after hearing many a singer and speaker, a video rolled with a corresponding "heal the world" type song that had images of virtually every world religion.  A star, a crescent, a cross, and many others.  Also confusing - and just as disturbing.  It was the classic "embrace whatever and be nice to one another" kind of sentiment.  Maybe it was just the outgrowth of a very confused man - Michael Jackson - who grew up Jehovah's Witness, later spent some time observing Judaism, and ultimately connected Himself to Islam.

One of the crowning moments (over which Michael Jackson had no control) of this whole week long frenzy were the comments of the family spokesman, Ken Sunshine.  He said to Meredith Veira on one of the morning programs the following:  "Talk about a worldwide figure of love.  Michael Jackson is the biggest figure and person emitting love...ever!"

Uh oh.  It seems that Mr. Sunshine has gone from eulogy to deification in one breath.  I guess Michael Jackson, in his view, is more loving than Jesus.

This is a microcosm of the problem - and the inevitable sadness - of the whole situation.  No person was ever meant to have this much glory.  All of Michael's problems weren't always Michael's doing (though some were).  Nobody can ever live with that much glory.  It's just too superhuman - too transcendent - too godlike.

The memorial service was proper in that people had a chance to honor the life and contributions of Michael Jackson to the music world.  And, it is also true, that he engaged in many humanitarian efforts that brought much good.  All of these should be properly honored and admired.  But, when one of the pastors that spoke uses words like this, "As long as we remember him, he will be there forever to comfort us," it seems that we, even maybe more than Michael, have lost our way.

Jesus Christ is love.  Jesus Christ is life.  In Jesus all of life exists, and all things are held together by Him.  Exclusive or not - politically correct or not - it matters not.  There is One God, the LORD is His Name, and He will not share His glory with another - not you, not me, not Michael.