As I prepared to write this article, the death of the legendary, iconic comedian/entertainer, Jerry Lewis, came across the newswire. For as far back as I can remember as a child until the year 2010, Jerry Lewis hosted the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day Telethon. During my elementary school years, I, like many kids my age, both loved and hated the telethon. Loved it, because there were amazing Hol-lywood personalities on around the clock for 24 hours, beginning Sunday night until Labor Day evening. Hated it, because back in the day the new school year began the September day following the telethon. The telethon and Jerry Lewis was thus the last vestige of fun and freedom before the prison camp of school began!
In addition to the great Jerry Lewis, we have lost to death a number of notable Hollywood stars this year including Glen Campbell (the Rhinestone Cowboy), Roger Moore (James Bond), Ty Hardin (Bronco), Leonard Landy (Little Rascals), John Heard (Home Alone), Martin Landau (Mission Impossible), Adam West (Batman), Gregg Allman (Allman Brothers Band), Erin Moran (Happy Days), Don Rickles (legendary insult comedian), Chuck Bariss (The Gong Show), Chuck Berry (legendary musician), Judge Joseph Wapner (The People’s Court), Al Jarreau (Grammy-winning jazz singer), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Mike Connors (Mannix), Mary Tyler Moore (The Dick Van Dyke Show; The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Barbara Hale (Perry Mason), Buddy Greco (jazz singer/pianist), and others.
We all have something in common with all these named above. Some or all of them may have been a part of your life and mine at some time, at least from an entertainment aspect. Along the way, they all had varying degrees of fame and success. So might we, comparatively speaking…or not. But most like them, we are all going to…to…to…well…die! (unless the Lord returns beforehand). With that stark reality in mind, please remember that burial clothes have no pockets and there are no U-Hauls behind hearses. In other words, when you die, you can’t take it with you. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, or how much stuff you have, or how big your bank account is, when your life is over on this planet, it’s over, and it’s all staying here!
But hopefully, in addition to whatever else you and I leave behind as we enter heaven’s gate, there will be a line of people who love us and people whom we love. These are the ones we’ve connected with and invested in and cared for over the course of our lives. They’re the ones, by the way, who are going to be in line behind the hearse when we pass from this world, not a U-Haul. And they will be there (hopefully in my case not because they are glad to see me go!) because you and I chose to follow Jesus’ words and example as His friends and spiritual fruit-bearers in John 15:12-17: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”
So, I just want to ask you a series of questions. What are you investing in? What matters most to you? What are you focused on? Is it on people or is it just selfishly on you or the things that you will leave behind when you depart this world that really don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things? If someone looked closely at your life, what would they say is most important to you?
Well, I want to encourage you to focus on investing in what Jesus thought most mattered, what He believed was most important, and what He invested in…people! By the way, studies have shown that people with the strongest social networks tend to live longer and healthier lives than other people, so investing lovingly in others pays off in multiple ways. So, if you want to delay that ultimate day of departure, invest in people! It’ll really pay off in this life and for all eternity.
Your friend and pastor,