Make That Change

So many of us are familiar with Michael’s songs and the lyrics…Man in the Mirror, Heal The World, etc.  But how many of us are actually taking those lyrics and the messages, and putting them into practice?
“You’ve got to start with yourself, Brother” ~ Lyrics, Man in the Mirror

True change starts from within.  It starts with each and every one of us.  It starts with that man (or woman) in the mirror that you see every day.
This spirited, emotional performance of “Man in the Mirror” from the 1988 Grammy’s is one of my absolute favorites.  Michael is asking us, all of us, to make that change.
This performance both lifts me up and makes me cry every time I see it.  It’s powerful.  It comes from the gut, from the spirit.  It’s complete emotion and faith expressed vocally and through the body.  Many people of faith would say that Michael’s performance there was filled with the Holy Spirit and I’d have to agree.
It truly saddens me when I see that so many of us still miss the message.  So many would not listen to Jesus when he came here with His message and even now, we miss it.  Michael always mentioned in interviews his desire to emulate Jesus, that he read the Bible daily.  This is why he was able to love and forgive even when nothing but hatred and negativity came at him.  It wasn’t easy.  He was in pain.  He cried.  He hurt.  But he knew what he was called to do, what all of us are called to do, and he went forward with it.  Even if it required sacrifice, and it did.  
To me, Michael Jackson was one of the best living examples in our lifetime of actually walking the walk.  Doing what is asked of us.  Taking God’s word and putting it into practice.  I know that might shock a lot of church leaders and public who believed the tabloid stories and relied on their information on who Michael was, simply from the tabloid and news reports, which were highly sensationalized and many times, completely false.
To see who Michael really was, visit HERE
Below, Michael speaks about loving your neighbors, forgiving those who hurt you.  All strong Biblical principles.
Love Your Neighbors:
“It’s important to love your neighbors.  I truly think it comes from my mother and God. The way we were raised. The values my mother instilled in us in youth. She was always with the Bible teaching us – we’d go to service all the time. Four times a week, and I’m so glad we did that because those values are very important. I don’t know if I could have done as well without them.”

Michael Jackson in 2005 At Large with Geraldo Rivera TV Interview

On Forgiving Those Who Have Hurt You (and for Michael, that also meant the press, other celebrities who made fun of him, etc.):
“Yes, because I was taught to be Biblical:  “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  And you do it…..You know, “They know not what they do.”  Words of Jesus.  They (those who come against him) don’t even know me.  It has no foundation what they are doing.  How can they say it….they don’t even know me?  Do you believe something you have read?”

Michael Jackson speaking to Shmuley Boteach in The Michael Jackson Tapes

For more, visit the His Faith page

Michael was right on target.  This is what the Bible says about this very thing:

“But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you.  If anyone slaps you on one cheek, offer them the other cheek too.  If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt.  Give to everyone who asks you, and when someone takes something that is yours, don’t ask for it back.  Do to others what you would want them to do to you.  If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get?  Even sinners love the people who love them.  If you do good only to those who do good to you, what praise should you get?  Even sinners do that!  If you lend things to people, always hoping to get something back, what praise should you get?  Even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount!  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back.  Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin.  Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy.

Don’t judge other people, and you will not be judged.  Don’t accuse others of being guilty, and you will not be accused of being guilty.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and you will receive.  You will be given much.  Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap.  The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.

Jesus then told them this story:  “Can a blind person lead another blind person?  No!  Both of them will fall into a ditch.  A student is not better than the teacher, but a student that has been fully trained will be like the teacher.

Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye?  How can you say to your friend ‘Friend, let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye’, when you cannot see that big piece of wood in your own eye!  You hypocrite!  First, take the wood out of your own eye.  Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.”

Luke 6: 27-42

Jesus also explained about how many times, those who are chosen, those who follow His ways, will be vilified and will suffer.

Jesus looked at his followers and said,

“You people who are poor are happy, because the kingdom of God belongs to you.  You people who are now hungry are happy, because you will be satisfied.  You people who are now crying are happy, because you will laugh with joy.

People will hate you, shut you out, insult you, and say you are evil because you follow the Son of Man.  But when they do, you will be happy.  Be full of joy at that time, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven.  Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.

But how terrible it will be for you who are rich, because you have had your easy life.  How terrible it will be for you who are full now, because you will be hungry.  How terrible it will be for you who are laughing now, because you will be sad and cry.  How terrible when everyone says only good things about you, because their ancestors said the same things about the false prophets.

Luke 6:20-26 

We all know that throughout his life, Michael was vilified, hated, insulted and called evil and accused of some of the most evil things, falsely.  The Bible speaks directly on this (above).  Those who follow God’s ways are especially prone to being treated poorly by a world that has become estranged from God.

Jesus own words here were what Michael was referring to in forgiving your enemies.  Following Jesus’ example:

And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.  Then Jesus said,  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ 
And they divided His garments and cast lots.  And the people stood looking on.  But even the rulers with them sneered, saying,  ‘He saved others;  let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”  Luke 23:33-35

Jesus forgave those who did evil to him.  Michael followed that example and forgave those who hurt and vilified him as well.  Though he at times spoke of it being very difficult and struggling with it in regards to certain individuals that had caused him a great deal of pain in his life, he put this Biblical concept into practice.

I see around me, daily, judgement, ridicule, hatred.  We judge or speak evil of people.  We make preconceived judgments based on race, skin color, beliefs, looks and so many other factors.  Many times, it’s judgments based on now having facts.  Judgments based on rumor or speculation.

It is up to us.  Will we look at ourselves in the mirror and see our actions for what they are and then take action to change?  To start to love, to truly love our neighbors as ourselves?  Will we help those in need?  Reach out in kindness?  Forgive those who have hurt us or hurt others we love?  Be thankful for all that God has given us?  Use our God-given abilities as Michael did, to help and make a profound impact on a hurting, dying world that is going in the wrong direction?

To conclude, I’ll share once again Michael’s plea:

“You’ve got to start with yourself, Brother” ~ Lyrics, Man in the Mirror