Sadly, Houston was not only known for her amazing talent, but also for a drug and alcohol problem.
Another note, and the reason I’m writing about this story, is that Whitney Houston also claimed to be a Christian.
So what do you do with that? Someone most people know as a drug addict claims to be a Christian and dies at a young age. This is why I’m interested in Whitney’s story, because based on Facebook reactions alone, Christians have mixed thoughts about the story.
Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
The Good Part
Houston’s funeral was Saturday. My wife and I watched a small portion of it. You didn’t have to watch long before you heard a gospel song (the genre) or someone giving a testimony about Houston. I even caught the second half of T.D. Jakes’ talk. There is some good that can come out of her funeral. It was at least theistic, even monotheistic. I am sure there were many people there that love Jesus and are true followers of His. And Jakes’ talk was true from what I heard. It was about how love (I gathered, in Christ) wins over death. Understood in the right context, what he said was true. Did I mention the number of people that were watching was almost 200,000 via livestream? That’s a lot of people hearing a good message (although I wouldn’t say the gospel was explicitly preached in what I heard).
The Sobering Part
No Christian should be happy at any person’s death. Neither Whitney Houston’s nor Sadam Hussein’s. Every person is a person. There is a common bond that we have with them that is sobering. I too will one day die. And I will be remembered far less than Whitney Houston will be. Even more sobering is the death of those who have rejected God and will spend an eternity apart from Him in hell (not necessarily Houston). I will never be happy about that, and neither should any Christian. Because it’s only by God’s grace that I am not headed that direction now.
The Troubling Part
In the 15 minutes I watched of Houston’s funeral, several people implied or flat out said that Whitney Houston is in heaven (or “with Jesus”). T.D. Jakes certainly implied that she was in heaven. The song I listened to afterwards blatantly said so.
I will not be happy if I somehow find out one day that Whitney Houston is in hell.
However, because hell is real, and because people really go there, it is troubling when something happens that might better someone’s chances of going! And in my opinion, how Christians are responding to Whitney Houston’s death could do just that.
How? By giving someone a false assurance that they are right with God when their lifestyle does not support that claim.
Again, it’s not my place to determine whether or not Whitney Houston is in heaven or hell. I did not know her. But it is my place to warn people who are living a life of consistent, unrepentant sin that they are in danger of judgment. People that are living this way do not need to be consoled. They need to be confronted about their sin and warned. Hopefully they will turn from it and trust Christ and live for Him!
Is it really true that someone can be a Christian and live a life that flies in the face of God’s Word?
The Bible is very clear that someone is not a Christian simply because they claim to be so (or even if they’re convinced!)–Matthew 7.
“But Jacob, we’re not saved by works!”
Yes, that’s true, we’re not made acceptable before God by doing good things (Romans 3). But Scripture is also clear that true saving faith is one that results in a faithful, holy life. Faith without works is not true faith (James 2)!
And also consider the warnings in Hebrews 3:16-19; 6; 10:26-31.
Or how about the signs the John gives in 1 John of those who are truly in Christ?
- If we say we have fellowship with God while walking in darkness, we lie and don’t practice the truth (1 John 1:6)
- We know we have come to know God if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3)
- Whoever says he abides in God must walk in the same way Jesus walked (1 John 2:6)
- If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15)
- Everyone who practices righteousness has been born of God (1 John 2:29)
- No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him (1 John 3:6)
- Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous (1 John 3:7)
- By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10)
God’s Word is clear. Those who are in Christ (although still sinners) show a pattern of lifestyle that more and more resembles that of Jesus’.
Let’s mourn the death of Whitney Houston and not be happy or say silly things like, “She got what was coming.” Meanwhile, let’s not be deceiving to people by implying someone can live however they like and still reap eternal life. God’s grace is more powerful than that.