You Will Know Them By Their Fruit
Michael Jackson, Christianity & Controversy
I hope and pray that this article and commentary will put the questions and fears to rest once and for all and that in its place, will be peace in knowing that Michael is now with Jesus and the Father, far away from all of the pain he suffered here.
There has been a lot of talk over whether or not Michael Jackson was a Christian. I encountered a lot of this while doing research for the Reflections on the Dance website and to this day, it is one of the questions I am asked the most about via email and personal inquiries. Even going on nearly a year after Michael’s passing, there are still so many questions in regards to this subject. Some who contact me are sincere in wanting further knowledge and reassurance, some are judgmental and condemning.
Those who don’t believe in God are sometimes angered as they don’t want Michael associated with God or religion (even though Michael himself spoke about God and Jesus all of the time and Michael claimed over and over that all his talent and all he had, was from God), while Christians are divided into three camps. Those who don’t want Michael in their “exclusive club”, those who are so afraid that some technicality or glitch will have prevented him from eternal life, and those who believe and are assured that he is with the Father. It’s no surprise I am a believer of the latter.
On one hand, you have the group of Christians who remain very legalistic and condemning and who believed all of the lies put out there about Michael. This group is hell-bent on keeping Michael Jackson out of heaven, some going as far as calling Michael “a wasted life” among other completely horrible and ignorant statements.
This group feels that there is a magic formula of perfection and that only those who are perfect and meet their own man-made criteria, can make it in, without realizing that they themselves could not possibly fulfill all of the requirements that they have devised in their un-biblical, self-righteous dictates in their efforts to try and keep Michael outside of God’s mercy and love. The thing somebody forgot to tell them is that they don’t make that decision. God does.
This group of believers cannot seem to accept and welcome Michael into the arms of faith, as a person saved by God, because they feel he was too “weird” or a pedophile (though he was acquitted and was completely innocent, they refuse to accept) or because of his dance moves, his plastic surgeries or some other criteria. Most of the people who have this propensity for judgment would not have accepted Jesus Christ himself, because he would not have fit into the country club mentality that they possess. The most disturbing thing to me is that these same people who condemn and judge Michael, would not and could not hold themselves to this same pristine standard.
They argue round in circles about him not “bearing fruit” and being “of this world and loved by the world” and then, when you show them all of the philanthropic, humanitarian work Michael did, out of his own pocket, on his own time, continuously, and you show them all of the condemnation he came against, much like Jesus, they retract that argument, surprised by this new information, and in an attempt to defend their stalwart position, then state that “works cannot get you into Heaven.” So, which is it?
This argument is completely frustrating and gets us nowhere because it is not based on facts or even Biblical truth, but on men judging someone that they didn’t even know, and judging him on false pretenses without the proper information.
My advice to them would be at the very least to pick a corner and stick with it instead of bouncing back and forth between two extremes in a desperate dance of un-acceptance or, better yet, get out their Bibles and actually read them, and in addition, spend some time on the Reflections website getting to know the truth about Michael. It is just plain wrong to condemn and judge someone you honestly know nothing about. Judgment without truth is ignorance.
Weymouth New Testament
James 5:9 Do not cry out in condemnation of one another, brethren, lest you come under judgement. I tell you that the Judge is standing at the door.
It becomes a catch 22 argument of foolishness and it quickly becomes apparent that they will try to argue you in circles to death and flip flop their answers as need be to prove their own distorted viewpoint. To them, Michael Jackson making it into heaven is just utterly unthinkable. In fact, I am so certain that this idea disgusts them to the fullest, that if they find out that Michael is truly in heaven with God, that they might completely lose their own faith or die a second death upon reaching heaven themselves, out of sheer disappointment and disgust, if they themselves make it there.
When confronted with this type of individual, I always have to ask myself why it is so darned important for them to keep Michael Jackson out of heaven? Why they work so hard to convince themselves and others that it’s not possible for “someone like Michael Jackson” to be saved?
And by the way, just what do they mean by “someone like Michael Jackson” anyways. If they were half the human being Michael Jackson was, they would be blessed. Too many have judged Michael by what the media has reported (99% lies) than by actually seeking truth. Michael gave of himself continuously, saved children’s lives by paying for their medical care and operations, visited sick children and freely gave of his time and resources to help those in need. He always showed love, humility, kindness, faith and spoke of God often, with his actions following his faith. What more “fruits of the spirit” do you need?
"...But I will never stop helping and loving people
the way Jesus said to." Michael Jackson
New Living Translation (©2007)
Matthew 7:16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Michael’s actions bore much fruit. Just view this website to see the truth of how he lived his life in that faith.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-15
An overview of Michael’s good works and the fruit he bore:
1CO 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not
love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all
knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not
love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing.
Those who make these type of judgments do not know who Michael truly was and are basing their assumptions on false information.
So many who are judgmental and critical need to look at themselves in the mirror before judging someone else, especially someone they know nothing about. They are acting as if they are superior, which is the very opposite of what the Bible teaches. There is no superiority in the Christian faith. There’s no room for it. We all must bow down to the King of Kings, including Michael, and Michael always remained humble, giving and kind his entire life and always continued to profess his faith in God, read his Bible daily (how many Christians even do this??!!) and always gave God credit for all that he had.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a
11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that
I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this
12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up
to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified
before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who
humbles himself will be exalted."
On the other hand, you have Christians who were completely devastated by Michael’s death and who are actively, desperately seeking “proof” that he was a Christian, that he believed this or that. They want assurance that he is with God now. That he met some type of criteria that they themselves might not even fit muster for.
Some, even after showing them what Michael himself said about his faith and sharing with them what those who knew Michael well and for many years, have shared with me about Michael’s faith, they either continue to question me for further proof as they seem reluctant to believe…because either they don’t want to get their hopes up and falsely believe and then be disappointed, or because they feel that there must be some “glitch”, something Michael said or did or didn’t do, that might have prevented him from receiving God’s mercy and therefore, eternal life. Some bring up certain things Michael said or did or the manner in which he said something or a specific word, as if somehow, these insignificant, superficial things could somehow prevent God from extending his mercy to Michael, just as He extends it to all of us.
So, in all of this, I feel a definite need to address these issues.
Faith, my dear friends, is pretty simple. We, as human beings, make it so complicated! If it were up to our own efforts, none of us would be saved. If Michael could not make it into heaven because of a dance move or plastic surgery or some other superficial judgment, then how in the world do you or I expect to make it in?
Take an honest look at yourself and your life. Have you not made mistakes? Sinned? Made poor decisions at one time or another? Have we not all failed?
Michael was an amazing human being and we could all learn from his example of humility, giving, love, faith, how kind he was all of the time and how he took the time to speak with and acknowledge and thank his fans. He was also just that… human, and yes, he made mistakes as we all do. He faltered.
That is exactly why Jesus came and died on the cross. Jesus fulfilled the law. He fulfilled what we as humans were incapable of.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for
us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
What the Bible says:
John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
What Michael said:
On Having a Relationship With Jesus:
SB (Shmuley Boteach):. ...Do you have a relationship with Jesus?
MJ: Jesus, yes. Absolutely. But you believe in Jesus, don’t you?
The Michael Jackson Tapes
I simply believe.... I believe in it and I get down on my knees every night and thank God and ask Him to lead the way."
1979 Ebony Magazine interview
On studying the Bible:
"Each day I take time out to study the Bible, no matter where I am. The teachings of the Bible have added a new dimension to my life. It, somehow, makes me whole."
1976 "Black Stars" Magazine interview
Q: I have read alot of places that Michael read his bible alot in the thriller era and I was wondering if you ever saw him reading the bible or pray? MJ's Bodyguard: He read the bible daily. MJ's bodyguard Bill, one of Michael's bodyguards since 2006, answering fans' questions
Coping with Fame and Respecting & Having Time for His Fans:
"I cope with it in a way - and I’m not calling myself Jesus, because I would never even look at myself on the same level - , but I’m comparing it to Jesus, because what God gave to Him was for a reason, and he preached, and people came about him and he didn’t get angry and push them aside and say leave me alone, I ain’t got time."
1984 Ebony Magazine
Faith in God Sustaining Him and Giving Him Strength Through The Tough Times:
"I gain strength from God. I believe in Jehovah, God, very much. And I gain strength from the fact that I know that I am innocent. None of these stories are true. They are totally fabricated. It's very sad and it's very, very painful. I pray a lot and that's how I deal with it. I'm a strong person. I'm a warrior, and I know what is inside of me. I'm a fighter, but it's very painful and at the end of the day, I'm still human, you know? I'm still a human being, so it does hurt very, very, very much."
Michael Jackson in his interview with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the 2005 child molestation trial
"Know, in the end, I'll be vindicated, I pray, because I know the truth. I am an innocent person and I believe in God and love God."
Michael Jackson speaking to Rev. Jesse Jackson during his 2005 child molestation trial on what he wants his fans to know
On Forgiving Those Who Have Hurt You (and for Michael, that also meant the press, other celebrities who made fun of him, etc.):
"Yes, because I was taught to be Biblical: "Forgive them for they know not what they do." And you do it.....You know, "They know not what they do." Words of Jesus. They (those who come against him) don't even know me. It has no foundation what they are doing. How can they say it....they don't even know me? Do you believe something you have read?"
The Michael Jackson Tapes
ON GOD AND PRAYER: "During the meals I've had with him, he did pray silently. When he prayed out loud, it was always to God, but that doesn't mean he didn't use any other names. We would talk about god and grace and humility a lot. One day MJ and I were working on some new music, and during a break we started talking about the name Michael. He said "Hey, Bearden! Do you know what our name means?" I didn't know. He said it means "most like God." And then he said to me, "We can't be big-headed about it. We have to be humble or God could take our gifts away. Promise me you'll be humble!"
Michael Bearden speaking about Michael Jackson in Ebony
Michael's vocal coach and friend for 21 years, Seth Riggs, speaks about one of Michael's spiritual moments and his communication with God:
"You know, there was one moment. I was playing a piano, and he was standing next to me. All of a sudden, he stretched his hands, looking upwards. It seemed to me that it was very important to him. That’s why I left the room and switched the light off. After half an hour I came back to the room. He was whispering: “Thank you for my talent. Thank you for everything I’ve got. Thank you for all the people who love me. Tell me what I should do, and I’ll do it.” It seemed to me that it was the moment of his communication with God."
Seth Riggs, a vocal teacher who worked with Michael for two hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week while Michael was recording Thriller and also on subsequent projects, commented on Michael's character in a Time Magazine article.
"Michael is a very special man. He would come in for his lesson and sit down and we would have a prayer and then read the Bible and then have another prayer and start to work. That's the way he liked to begin his day. Can you imagine a performer as big as Michael Jackson turning around in a lesson and discussing how wonderful God has been to him and how much he loves God?"