Friday, June 26, 2009

The Michael in All of Us

Yesterday as I was sitting at a water park celebrating my church’s anniversary I received a text message from a family member saying that Michael Jackson had died. I immediately flipped my phone close and shared this information with my husband. It was the usual response almost everyone who had received this text may have had, “guess who just died” I asked him. His first response was the President, no silly not the President. My hysterical look gave him the hint that it was someone really important whose presence was no longer with us. I gave him a couple of more chances to guess who, then I shared with him that it was Michael Jackson. The look on his face was, stop being silly Michael Jackson is not dead. Now he could envision some pretty important people passing from us, but not Michael Jackson.

After the news began traveling through the information highway via text messaging the conversation quickly changed from the small talk of friends and family to the inquiries as to what happened to Michael Jackson. Another strange thing happened almost immediately. Everyone appeared to be slowly going back in time to the good ole days of the 60’s when the Jackson Five were the household name in entertainment. By the time we had arrived back home cable news and the internet was jammed pack with tributes and searches about Michael Jackson. It was as if everyone was personally acquainted with this man. And not only that, but he left a smile on everyone’s face who knew him through his songs and through his talents. Even in his dark times the life of Michael Jackson brought intrigue and marvel to many.

I had a nephew whom we had nicknamed “Bad”, after the song “Bad”, by Michael Jackson. Every time the song would play and Michael would end the song with “Who’s Bad?”, he would reply, “I’m Bad”, so we nicknamed him “Bad”. Not that he was a bad child but because he loved the song by Michael Jackson. In my younger days I loved to dance and one of the person’s I always imagine being able to compete against was Michael Jackson. I love his song “Dancing Machine”, which was replaced by his 1980’s hit, “Don’t stop till you get enough”. Today, I am really not thinking about the controversies that plague Michael at one time in his life. Nor was I really concerned about his turn to substance abuse, or the many other news flashes we received through the tabloids. I think all of us who either grew up with the Jackson Five or new Michael through his later career, have been able to connect with him in some way. His amazing talents in the art of composing, and performing music will always be something we will remember about him, but how about the tragedies in his life?

There was something about Michael Jackson that caused him to experience his longings in a very inward manner. When one looks upon his performances, the intensity in which he performs is incredible to behold. Every major crisis that happens to us as a group causes me to mature in the manner in which I live my own life and the same thing has happened in this instance as well. Everyone will be talking about how he died behind closed doors, and what really killed him, and the strange controversies that surrounded him, and so on and so forth, but what does that say about us. There are many who place actors and performers and those in the spotlight on a pedestal as if they were immortal. They are not, these people breath, sleep and exist just like the rest of us. But I wonder how many of us all things being constant as in Michael’s life, would act any different when placed in the same situation? No one can answer that question honestly because we don’t know nor will we ever know because we are not Michael Jackson, nor can we be him. Through Michael’s tragedy I have been able to see that humans can drive each other to utter madness. What if every human being would allow the next human being to just be who God created them to be? No expectations. No preconceived notions. No judgments. I wonder how many suicides, homicides, mental breakdowns, bouts of depression would exist. We all must have a very well balanced set of morals within this context as it would only result in more of the same episodes from the list above. We all know that man is not perfect and we all have controversy in our lives. We are not celebrities so our laundry is not hung out for the world to get a whiff of but we all have it.

When I thought about all the speculations the death of Michael Jackson would bring out I also thought about something Jesus said when the Pharisees brought to Him a woman who had been caught in adultery, John 8:7 says, “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up[a] and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” What I am learning from this tragedy is the same lesson I believe Jesus was trying to teach the Pharisee. Okay, this person sinned, and what are you going to do about the sin this person has committed. What can you do about it? Oh and what will I do about your sin as well? The answer to all of these questions would be nothing. Yet we get personally offended when other people sin as if we are going to punish that individual. Now of course, I am actually talking about myself here, but while we are all going through this tragedy together, it would be a great experience if we all learn something good from it together as well.

Paul says it like this in Romans 15:1-3, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”[a] We have seen there were many places in Michael Jackson’s life where he was obviously weak and confused unable to make sound choices and decisions. But again, he is no different than any of us because as 1 Corinthian 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

One of the tendencies I have seen amongst Christians is that of believing that Scriptures such as those above apply only to the next person, whoever the other person may be. We must first apply these standards to our own lives before we can begin to apply them to someone else’s life. So I believe that the “Michael” in all of us is that remembrance that we will all mess up, we will all fall short, and when that happens and it will; what will the response be? Our experience in this life with Michael and others, can teach us that we must remember the delicate state of all of us in our humanity. We must remember that we are all but a short distance away from the loony farm, if it was not for the grace of God.

We must remember that as Michael is leaving his legacy of all sorts with us, we too will one day leave behind a legacy. I think about if I could influence the world like this man, what would I want the world to remember about me? For me, I would not want people to remember me personally, but the person I represented through my life, that person being Jesus Christ. If I could have an impact on how people behaved like Michael did, I would want them to all behave with reverence to the God who created us. He gave us Michael and all of his many talents and abilities in the arts. Instead of harping on the wrongs and eccentric behaviors of Michael Jackson, I encourage you to remember that one day, your time to leave will come as well and when it does what will be the legacy of your life. Just as soon as the next day comes to us or the next minute or hour, someone else will fall and what will the response be?

Will assumptions arise? Will accusations arise? Will you even ask how you can make that person’s plight more bearable? Or will you start the gossip will spinning? In this God will teach us all a lesson about our attitudes towards each other and the quick nature to judge and point the finger, and position ourselves for the great stone toss. I believe that God will use Michael’s life to be a blessing to all of us in different ways as we go forward in this life. But there will always be a little bit of Michael’s life left within our own and I hope when that time of reflecting comes it will cause you to add a good statement to the legacy you are creating for yourself, for your family, loved ones and friends.


  1. Hi Mary, I think I just learn something new from you that I didn't think about before, in all honesty it didn,t surpise me a whole lot when I heard about Micheal J. death, But I feel that he was a very lost soul, he had a lot of God given talent that we will always remember and that he shared with us, but he seem so sad & trouble. One thing that did trouble me was the way people responded, I remember telling my husband if people follow after Christ the way follow Micheal J,what a life they would have.

    I hope that Micheal soul has found some peace.

  2. Mary, what great insight. God has given you a great gift of communication, thank you for using it.