Monday, July 6, 2009
Reach out to the fans of Jacko
by Steve Oh
The time for evangelism is here!
The media is in a frenzy over Michael Jackson's death. Every day it bombards us with news on him. His idiosyncracies are legendary, if not somewhat bizarre, and as the opportunistic media unravels more shocking news, the world will be kept entertained for a long time. And we may find opportunities to share better news about Jesus.
Michael Jackson's legacy is the warning there is a way that seems right but leads only to death.
Today the news, though unconfirmed, tell us at least twelve people have committed suicide on learning of Michael Jackson's death. Russian MJ impersonator, Palel Talalayev who was found with wrists cut said, " "I don't know why the doctors saved me. I want to be with Michael, and I will kill myself anyway, " he added. How tragic.
So the Reverend Jesse Jackson appeared on Youtube and appealed: " "It made Michael happy saying 'We Are The World'. Don't self destruct. We fall down sometimes, we get back up. That's the right thing to do. In Michael's name let's live together as brothers and sisters and not die apart as fools," said Jackson.
Well, Jesse, you've got a point, but people need to hear the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The brotherhood of man in Michael's name is as safe as the Tower of Babel. But I say in Jesus' name let us tell the world there is a way that seems right but only leads to death but only in Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
A cyber friend, Dr Lim, also Christian missions trainer, and fledgling painter, splitting his time between Singapore and Ireland wrote:
"Share the good news where ever we are:
Can do it one on one,
can teach a large group if there is opportunity for such.
Multiplication can be achieved by training others to be trainers....."
This Christian brother is active and fruitful and now has a passion to paint and puts meaningful text on his paintings. And he passes them around that others may benefit. What a positive life.
Every human idol is made of straw. Jesus is the true Rock of Salvation.
God shatters the world's confidence in the gods they erect. The devil wants to populate the lake of fire where he himself will be punished and we need to get alarmed and active to "snatch others from the fire" as Jude exhorts.
We need to be like Shamgar and use all we have even if it is not much and in his case a mere oxgoad to be productive.
We must be wary that while there is a flurry of impressive activity it must be like in the days when souls were "added to the church daily those who were saved." In fact today in Christian circles I hardly hear talk of 'soulsaving' or 'leading people to Christ' and when was the last time you heard a sermon on the 'lake of fire' or such concern?
Have we lost the plot?
Michael Jackson as a young pop prodigy once sang,
"You and I must make a pact
We must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I'll be there"
Ironically and tragically, he was not able to save himself.
Idols desperately need salvation like a lot of their fans and we should not be afraid to reach out to them.
Rich and famous people are often lonely and confused. They don't know if someone is genuine or has some ulterior motive. They often believe in their own invincibility. But deep down they need love and affirmation like everyone else. We must never be afraid to reach out to those people.
The Bible says, 'The fear of man brings a snare but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.' Let us remember that we are sons and daughters of God Most High. It is our lack of faith and intimate relationship with God that constrains us from taking our 'royal' role seriously and speaking out boldly for God.
Audacity should be our middle name. I learned to be thick-skinned for Jesus early in my Christian life while out evangelising. Sometimes our Christian comrades may not understand. King David was audacious. His brothers chided him but because of his audacity Goliath died. We need to be audacious because God will fulfill our acts "prompted by our faith" because faith enables us to walk on water and slay the giants railing against God.
Many Christians I know short-sell themselves. They are limited by fear and what people will think of them if they did something different. But the man of faith is thick-skinned and will launch out in faith in exploits for God. They don't confine themselves in the comfort zone.
I am reading an old Readers Digest compilation of the lives of great men and women who changed history. Many are not Christian. So how much more we who have God with us should like William Carey, "attempt great things for God and expect great things from him." Their lives ought to inspire us to achieve exploits for God. Sadly there is a negative strain of thought among Christians that human achievements are futile so they live with mediocrity.
The truth is the devil whispers lies in our ears and gives us a million reasons why we can't or shan't do something for God. But we are to call his bluff and break off our bonds of fear and inertia. "I can do all things in Christ," Paul said, and I believe all of us can do something significant for God in the time we still have. "Greater things you shall do," Jesus said, and I believe him.
Just do it!
When in 2000 I was doing a preaching circuit with Dr Ethel Nelson, the American author who wrote about the Chinese characters and their link to Genesis, I tried to see Singapore's former PM Lee K Yew, but his personal assistant told me he was overseas. He is a Confucius scholar and I thought it'd be a good idea to talk to him about what Confucious said about Jesus. In Penang we visited the largest Thai Buddhist temple and gave some Christian books to the Chief Abbot, and had a good conversation with him about Jesus.
When Michael Jackson came to Perth during his History world tour some years ago, tweny of us went outside the Perth Dome where he performed, to distribute a tract I had written called Michael Jackson, God and You. A pastor typed the tract for me and another arranged for its printing. And we went out to evangelise together. The Gospel was presented in a carefully crafted message. We distributed thousands of tracts until a security personnel representing MJ told us to move along, which we did - to a better spot. And I told him to pass on the tract to Michael Jackson.
Inside the Dome while waiting for MJ to perform, I saw thousands of people reading the simple yellow-coloured tract we had given out. When MJ performed he was terrific, and no one should doubt his genius at what he does. But almost in a flash I made a poignant observation. There was a scene where MJ appeared in some weird costume and I got the distinct impression, almost like a revelation from God that his countenance was like one of a Hindu deity!
Is it any wonder that MJ's album Thriller is among the highest sold music albums in history, if not the highest? Who is the father of fear in the world? Who does not feel fear when watching the video of MJ portrayed as some weird werewolf- like creature? Fear is the opposite of faith. It wasn't Michael's idea but he became the tool and even the most innocent people can become unwitting channels of evil.
George Harrison introduced the Beatles to Hinduism. He died a Hindu. And his favourite saying? "Love one another." The Beatles popularized Hinduism which merged into the Hippie and pop counter-culture of the late 60's and 70's readily.
This ancient religion is the Mother of Religions that will surely spread its tentacles in various forms to entice the world. In Perth the biggest and most expensive home in all of Australia is being built by a wealthy Hindu Indian couple who unashamedly spread their faith and will no doubt use their abode as a centre of influence. It is a few doors away from the Perth home of the previous Malaysian prime minister.
I once heard an American Baptist pastor's tape of a demon-possessed man boasting that the devil will use pop music to lead a whole generation astray. It has happened! But that does not mean pop music is evil because God is smarter and so should we be. God is always in control and his purpose cannot be thwarted. But he figures us in his plan.
Jesus warns that even the elect can be misled. It behooves us therefore to always be vigilant and to guard our hearts and minds against the people and things of the world that endear them to us. Michael Jackson's music is alluring, sensuous and grips the soul, and because of his complex persona, has old and young among his fans. The enemy of God often uses exceptional people to lead people away from God. They can even masquerade as 'angels of light' and false messiahs!
When the late Francis Schaeffer wrote of the counter-culture in the 60's and 70's the culture was still Christian in the West. But today it is tragically secular, even anti-Christian. So the counter-culture for us today may well be being Christian and against the culture of political correctness. History has gone full circle and we may well be today's counter-culturalists! Generations of Australians have never read the Bible or know the Gospel.
Let us make use of the opportunity of Michael Jackson's death to draw people into a conversation about the true meaning and purpose of life that he never discovered. This is more constructive than cynicism. We ought not to judge him for his failings, that God will surely do, but we can pray for his family and fans that many will come to know Jesus Christ.
Pray that God will turn many hearts to Jesus and that he will open their eyes to the truth. In John Chapter 17 we see how Jesus prayed for the world that they might know him through his disciples.
Let us pray that God will lead us to prepared hearts to share the Gospel with them and explain to them that Jesus Christ is the Lord of History and that Michael Jackson talented as he was, was nothing more than a frail and needy human being, even if he was the King of Pop. A king of straw!
The god of pop needed Jesus and so do we all and a world of unsaved souls.
Pray that many will come to know the King of kings and God will turn many hearts to himself. Some of us have children and young friends who like Michael Jackson. We should talk to them and counsel them and let them know that we all need to trust in God. And that if Michael Jackson had glorified God instead of himself, he might still be alive today.
Nevertheless our prayers are for the living and in humility we must pray for a very needy world. The organisers' website saw 500 million hits from people who want to attend a free memorial concert. That if true is astounding and I hope we will find creative ways to reach the unsaved.
PRAY for revival and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon God's people everywhere that they may have the passion to preach the Gospel in bold, creative, and consistent ways to the unsaved.