Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a culture-hater. True, I don’t always understand the culture (who is this Miley Montana chick, and why is she on my TV/radio/lip gloss tube/oh-wait-I-meant-to-say-brass-knuckles?) but I don’t hate the culture. I’m not scanning the airwaves trying to find some cartoon character to push out of the closet, I don’t picket outside of stores that sell cigarettes, and I attend Disney movies with reckless abandon. I never have found the verse where Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you: Boycott one another” although I’m sure it’s in there because some Christians have raised it to an art form. I get really ticked at Christians who believe the Devil is behind everything that comes out of Hollywood. In fact, I’m far more prone to make fun of Christian culture than anything else.
But today marks a very strange moment on the world stage. Today we’re witnessing the debut of the most-hyped movie of 2009, starring the most-hyped celebrity of my generation. And today, I gotta tell you…I’m a little weirded out by some of the overt Christ-figurish stuff that I’m seeing applied to the King of Pop.
Last week was when I first heard Michael Jackson’s new single. He referred to himself as the “light of the world.” The movie trailer is full of references to his amazing presence, the hope his music gives, and the fact that he is “at the center” of everything. The movie poster itself evokes images of the crucified Jesus.
I’ll just go ahead and say it: what you’re seeing is the truest picture of worship you may ever see this side of heaven. It’s unheralded devotion. People overcome with emotion. Hordes with voices raised, hands lifted, tears streaming.
MJ was an incredibly gifted musician: I won’t deny that. But he makes for an incredibly bad savior. His life was as remarkable and enchanted and weird as they come, but in the end, he couldn’t save himself. He needed the true Savior to do that for him.
Do I believe that Jackson thought of himself as God or as a Christ-figure? No, I really don’t believe that. But I wholeheartedly believe that there are people treat him as if he was. Or is.
Michael Jackson is certainly alive somewhere forever, just as we all will be one day. If your hope is in Jesus, that “somewhere” is in heaven. If it’s in the other king – the one who couldn’t save himself – my prayer is that you’ll realize you need a Savior just as he did. Because in the end, this world and its idols just isn’t it.