My wife and I are visiting our church in Every Nation Memphis now. Yesterday we took a tour around some sights that this historic city is known for. First we visited Graceland, the home of the King, Elvis Presley, then we went to the National Civil Rights Museum, which is the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Two historical artifacts, two untimely deaths, two great men, but one site left me with the sense of tragedy and the other with a sense of hope.
One death was analyzed meticulously. From Reverend King’s famous mountaintop speech the night before, to the moments in his hotel room, to the disorder that erupted when he was shot. Everything about it was pieced together to paint a picture of a man who felt his end was near, but faced it grimly in order to lead other people to a better life.
In contrast, there was no mention at all of Elvis’ last years. And his death was announced simply in one sentence. The entire tour glorified him and showcased the machinery and celebrity culture that sucked him in, chewed him up, and spit him out. But was quick to gloss over the remains of the man it left behind. The entire site today immortalizes the young and rising star and not the broken has-been. Is it any wonder that so many young people nowadays desire celebrity status without considering just how much it takes from a person?
The rest of the day got me thinking. We all have one life and one death. Even if we live our life to the fullest here on Earth, even if we attain all earthly accolades, even if we become the most successful, the most famous, the richest person in the eyes of everyone around us, what validates all that is how we die and what comes after. Are we living today with an eye for how we will die?
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
– Jesus (Matthew 16:25-27)