I’ll go ahead and admit it. I saw Prince live on stage back in the 80’s when I was a U.K. student. At the time it was billed as one of Lexington’s premiere concerts. Good tickets were expensive, and the crowd was wild. And I was there in the thick of it all.
At the time I didn’t think about Prince ever dying. After all, he was young and energetic and all over those specially-crafted, multi-level platforms at Rupp Arena. We were all young. Or so it seemed. And who was thinking about dying when we all felt so much alive?
Prince is dead.
That may not be a big deal to you, but isn’t the death of every cultural icon a critical moment? A wake-up call? A reminder? A bit of an APB? Soon, and very soon, each one of us will be the person of interest.
Now is the time to learn from a rock star. Life is short, and getting shorter, and personal popularity means nothing of merit when we face the Judge of the Universe. Prince Rogers Nelson must stand before the God who created him; you and I will do the same. Whether we’ve sold 100 million records or not, Ecclesiastes reminds us (3:17-20): “God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work … All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”
If, as Solomon also affirms (3:11), God has “put eternity into man’s heart,” then today is a great day to ask ourselves all the right questions. The questions that count. Last year Prince and 3rdEyeGirl released an electric guitar-heavy version of singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman’s What If … “What if you’re right? And he was just another nice guy … What if he takes his place in history with all the prophets and the kings who taught us love and came in peace? But then the story ends. What then? But what if you’re wrong? What if there’s more?”
Those were sound and sobering questions – questions of eternal weightiness – not really the kind we had come to expect from a master musician and sensational (sometimes even scandalous) entertainer like Prince. Prince sang: “What if you’re wrong, what if there’s more … what if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?”
The Bible assures us that Christian believers have “steadfastness of hope” (First Thessalonians 1:3). That’s certain hope, and enduring hope. It’s not just any hope, and it’s not just hope in anything. It is “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Did Prince know the hope of which he sang at least a time or two? Only God knows the answer to that question. But Prince’s sudden and unexpected death compels me to ask a more important question …
Do you know hope?
His name is Jesus.