Today, there will be a huge memorial service for Michael Jackson, which will probably been one of the most highly viewed, Tivo"d, and taped events of all time. As I sit here, there is around the clock coverage of his life, his performances, and the speculation regarding the many legal and social problems that he experienced.
At the same time, as I complete football junkie, the life and death of quarterback Steve Mcnair has saturated sports networks and sports media. Steve is regarded as one of the paragons of integrity and commitment as the quarterback of both the Tennesee Titans and later for the Baltimore Ravens. He was considered the consummate family man with a stable marriage and the father of four. He was shot to death, along with his apparent lover, last week. His wife, family and friends are devasted by the loss of a father, husband, and even more important, their trust. It is simply overwhelming to put yourself in their shoes.
I have read numerous blogs, columns, and emails from Christian sources, where people have talked about the tragedy of both of their lives. It is so easy to view these events through a moral/ethical framework and point out all the mistakes and sins that were committed: Michael Jackson's suspected pedophillia, his questionable spirituality and Steve McNair's obvious indescretions against his wife, family, and God.
However, I am absolutely flooded by the sense of God's grace. Any thoughts that I have regarding their sinfulness has been literally replaced with the immensity of God's grace. The Bible describes Jesus as full of truth and Grace. Truth is the reality of righteousness and sinfulness, but Grace is God"s desire to bless us all with what we do not deserve, based upon His love alone. The truth is that we all deserve to be "exposed" and "shamed" for the activities, thoughts, and desires that are against God's will and hurt others. We try to qualitate them, and state that some are worse than others, but the fact is that our attempts to qualitate sin (rate some sins worse than others) is deeply entrenched in our culture and self-preservation. Studies have shown that culture deeply shapes what we consider shameful (consider the reasons why there are so many different views regarding the activities of Michael Vick). Additionally, we tend to accept the sins in which we participate as "normal" while those that we do not experience are seen as "terrible".
All this to say, that I mourn the deaths of both of them as a loss of life and the inability for both of these incredible people to experience wholeness, reconciliation, and healing. As I mourn, I thank God for his grace, knowing that I too have sinned against him, hurt others deeply, and done things that are despicable. It is for this reason that Jesus died. It is for this reason that the Bible tells us that there is "no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). I thank God for His underserved favor upon us all.
Can we take this opportunity to extend God's grace to the many within our individual spheres of influence who desparately need wholeness, redemption, restoration and healing. WE do this by sharing the good news of Kingdom of God and its power in our own stories. Stories that have included healing and restoration, and not just exposing sin and regret. The Apostle Paul said it clearly by stating that he is "Forgetting what is behind and straining towards the prize". It does not mean that we ignore the past, but we allow Jesus to redeem our pasts through forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration.
May the Grace of God be with you all,
Pastor M Traylor