Let’s be honest, the coverage of Michael Jackson’s death and funeral has been over the top. I’m not sure how to react to the scores of people who filled the streets of Los Angeles with tear-filled eyes to pay their respects to the “King of Pop.” I saw on the news that people gathered by the thousands in Times Square to watch the memorial service on the big screen. One report indicated that hundreds of movie theaters around the country opened up their screens for people to gather to watch the memorial. Not to mention the cost involved. Batesville Casket Company created the $25,000 box used to bury Jackson. It was solid bronze, lined with blue velvet, plated with 14K gold, polished to a mirror finish. The city of Los Angeles estimated that the cost to the city would total more than 2 million dollars. The mayor’s office even set up a PayPal account for people to donate to the city to cover the cost. Watching the spectacle unfold reminded me that we live in a culture that really does not know how to think about eternity.
Why don’t we take a moment to think about this like Christians? The King of Pop, Michael Jackson is dead (at least that’s what they tell us—I’m still holding out for the Thriller Comeback Tour). When he breathed his last, he left this existence and entered into another one. His body became disposable, having served its function as a temporary dwelling place. If Michael Jackson followed Jesus Christ as the Son of God then he entered into heaven to be in the presence of Jesus forever and ever. He quit singing pop songs and began singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” If he did not follow Jesus, then he entered into eternal damnation where he will suffer in agony for the rest of eternity, completely separated from the presence of God. That’s it. There are no other options. We can buy golden caskets to bury bodies in. We can spend millions of dollars on funerals and memorials, but we must remember that all of this is temporal— even the shiniest gold casket is still designed to hold the bones of dead men.
We conclude our walk through 1 Corinthians 13 with a very timely glimpse into eternity. Paul concludes this treatise on love by reminding us that love is the only gift that is eternal. That’s really an amazing thought to get your mind around. There really is no need for prophecy in heaven because we will be in the presence of the Source of all prophecy. The gift of languages will cease in heaven, because the Source of all languages will be in our midst. The gift of knowledge will be unnecessary, because the Source of all knowledge will illuminate eternity. One thing will remain which is love. Love will remain because love is not just an emotion; it is a description of the character of God. Therefore, wherever God is found, love will be there as well. This is why Jesus places so much importance on love. Those of us who enjoy eternity in the presence of Jesus will do so in love—with one another, and with Christ. Love is eternal.
So, let us say goodbye to Michael Jackson—and Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and all the other celebrities that have left this life and entered into some existence for eternity. Nevertheless, let us always remember, even in our cult of celebrity, that eternity still looms at the end of our lives. Will we live today for eternity, or will we live today for today? Will we store up treasures in heaven, or build our Neverland Ranches on earth? Will we focus on love, the one thing that we will take with us into eternity, or will we focus on all the other stuff that is guaranteed to be left behind at the grave?
This week’s sermon, Love is Eternal, is available in MP3 format by clicking here.