While 31 million people were watching Michael Jackson's memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 7th, I joined a few hundred people at Life Point Church in Smyrna, TN for the funeral of 17-year-old Gabe Brewer, the son of Chris Brewer, my friend of many years. Chris and his friend Tim Miles helped me write my first book. Chris and I have traveled to Romania to teach church planting. And, I know how much Chris and Judy loved Gabe.
Many have shared their thoughts on the passing of a pop culture icon, and the spectacle that was his very public memorial service. I don't want to rehash what others have said so well about our culture's habit of deifying and worshiping men whose talents and gifts should point us to the giver of all good things, but I was so struck by these two different services I am compelled to talk about it.
Michael Jackson was one of the most famous men of his lifetime, selling over 300 million records, earning hundreds of millions of dollars, and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame– twice. And if you're over 30 and under 70 you owned the Thriller album. Don't lie, you know you did. Everyone had it.
Gabe Brewer was entering his senior year at Lancaster Christian Academy. He loved the Lord and his family. He was a leader among his peers, a good student, and played football and soccer. Chris told some wonderful stories in our time together and at the funeral. Gabe's faith and passion were clear.
Only one of these men was famous before men, but both were precious to God and stood before Jesus when they died. And, I saw both services the same day.
After describing the service and call to Christ, which was preached by the young man's father, Ed closes:
Millions tuned in to watch Jackson's memorial service where the King of Pop was remembered, and his work was lifted up. Everyone looked back, and it seemed there was nothing to look forward to. The golden casket seemed, at least to me, a sad reminder that not even a Pharaoh could take wealth into eternity.
A few hundred gathered at Gabe Brewer's funeral where the young man was remembered. But while we all looked back at the life Gabe lived, Chris also called us to look back to the One who gave his life that we might find ours; to Him who was raised from the dead victorious over death. And he called everyone there to look forward– to the rest of our lives and called everyone there to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ.
Gabe didn't have a golden casket, but he is walking on streets of gold.
This was quite the contrast.