The world is mourning the passing of pop star Prince. Death in one’s 50s is tragic, and the thought someone so famous would die alone in an elevator reminds us all of life’s uncertainties.
I will go ahead and get my disclaimers out-of-the-way. Indeed, some lyrics from Prince’s songs were raunchy, and come into conflict with God’s Word. Prince was a Jehovah’s Witness, a group with which I have sharp theological disagreements.
But I wish to make an appeal. Before we publicly pass eternal judgment on Prince, or any other celebrity who has died, let’s stop to think about the opportunities we might miss. I am not saying we shouldn’t use these events as teaching opportunities for our children. This is especially true if the circumstances surrounding death are criminal.
However, I wish to propose that non-believers really don’t care what we think about a celebrity’s spiritual life or moral integrity if we are out to condemn. They certainly don’t want to hear us criticize someone they adore.
I am not suggesting we get caught up in the emotion of our culture and forget our convictions. On the other hand, if we look at the passing of someone like Prince as an open door to talk about spiritual things with others, we might consider the following:
Sometimes the personal values of celebrities reflect biblical principles, and we can use their example as an opportunity to talk about the behaviors that please God. While I don’t think denying Jesus as God’s Son pleases God, I am impressed with Prince’s desire to be a simple member of a small congregation who was willing to participate in the mission and ministry of his spiritual family. He witnessed door-to-door with other church members and enjoyed discussing the Bible. It is obvious Prince craved a simple faith without the chaos he experienced in other parts of his life. Many people want what Prince wanted when it comes to faith, and I feel certain discussing his life in this regard can open a pathway to someone’s heart.
Sometimes the world view of celebrities, though doctrinally askew, can point their fans in the general direction of God. Prince believed in a Creator and he humbly acknowledged his life and talent was a gift from God. In a world where famous people mock the idea of God or reduce Him to a universal force, we can build on a talented musician’s opinion to the contrary.
Sometimes celebrities defy the trappings of stardom and remind us we all have a responsibility to bless others as we have been blessed. As information about Prince’s generosity has emerged it has become obvious he gave incredible sums of money to good causes. Interestingly, he focused on efforts that encouraged people to work hard and succeed rather than those that robbed people of their dignity and ambition. The Bible tells us not to brag about our contributions and teaches us to help others help themselves. While we may not be in agreement with every cause Prince supported, his attitude toward money is Christ-like.
I do not intend to use this devotion as a tribute to a celebrity with whom I am only casually familiar. But as I look at his life I see numerous places to connect with others. As you know, people live vicariously through musicians and their music. While it may seem strange to mourn for someone one doesn’t know, I am certain there are people who are impacted on a deep level by Prince’s death and they are willing to receive comfort and encouragement from people who have a relationship with God.
Choose your words wisely as you talk about Prince. Consider the open door created by an event so many people are talking about. And as with anything in our lives, pray God might somehow use it and us for his glory.
After all, we all hurt and need someone to care about us. Don’t you know “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life?”