Saturday, February 10, 2007

What Would Jesus Have Done With Her?

News programs earlier this week provided more than ample information about the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Smith had become famous, not just for her striptease act in Houston, TX but for marrying at the age of 26 and oil tycoon who was 88 or 89 years old. When he died a short time later, the court battle between Smith and the tycoon’s other relatives over millions of dollars of estate money kept the headlines hot.

I believe she had a TV show a few years ago that was supposed to be one of those “reality” programs. Her lifestyle, her weight gain and then the amazing weight loss, and the continued star-fashion media that surrounded her kept her in the news and constantly characterized her as a dizzy blonde bombshell, drug user, and sex icon.

Well, no more. She’s dead. The last news reports failed to provide solid information as to the cause. It appears there was no physical trauma to her body, which leaves questions about drug overdose, suicide, or perhaps even murder as possibilities. The public will have to wait until the investigations are over.

Why should Christians care about any of this? For one reason only. Anna Nicole Smith is today’s Samaritan woman at the well, the woman caught in the act of adultery of John 8, or any number of other biblical characters. I suspect attitudes toward Anna Nicole were the same ones held about those ancient women. “She’s immoral.” She’s a junkie.” “She’s a golddigger.” And, I’m using the kind words. I have no doubt but that those harsh, common, 4-letter kind of words were used frequently to describe her. It is understandable; after all she flaunted her sexuality, and demonstrated her immoral lifestyle for profit. Regardless of her true motivations, she lived by an ethic that few of us would want for our daughters or sisters.

We still need to ask, “What would Jesus have done with her?”

What did Jesus do with the woman at the well? What did he do with the woman in John 8, caught in the very act of adultery and legally due a death sentence? Perhaps we need to sift through all the surrounding discussions and get to two vital points that tell us what Jesus would have done with Anna Nicole Smith.

First, he never condoned the sins of either the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery. Their sins were real, and their sins separated them from God, and if you’re thinking that somehow Jesus overlooked their sins, you’d be wrong. Whatever we do with Anna Nicole Smith, and thousands of people like her, we need to know that sin is wrong, and we need to acknowledge it.

But second, Jesus offered forgiveness. Without excusing sin, Jesus refused to condemn sexually immoral women. Instead, he provided a way out of sin. This is the forgotten and neglected issue. It is what Christians often allow to slip away unnoticed. I wonder if Anna Nicole Smith heard the first point, but not the second?

In one of the news clips I saw the other day, showing the now dead Smith at earlier times in her life, I noticed that she wore an interesting necklace. It was a fashionable cross. Now I don’t know why people wear crosses as jewelry. I have written before on this subject, and have said that it is surprising who wears crosses and where they wear them. It’s interesting that people would wear the symbol of Christian faith while living out a life that is anything but Christian. So, I can’t tell you what Anna Nicole Smith’s motive was for wearing that piece.

Neither do I know that she had an ounce of faith in Jesus Christ, or that she understood much, if anything, about the call of the gospel and how it changes true believers. But I do wonder if a single ray of hope in an otherwise dark life.

Personally, the whole of Smith’s life is unpleasant. I heard two talk-show hosts mention her death the other day, then one of them said, “You know what, I just don’t care.” The other replied, “I don’t either.” And that was the end of the discussion on their show. Perhaps that was best – no more mention of it, but I was sorry for their attitude. Anna Nicole Smith was a human being. Regardless of her lifestyle, her irreverent behavior, her blatant disregard for God, I know one thing about her that doesn’t get much press: she was loved by God. In fact, God loved Anna Nicole Smith so much he sent his Son to die for her.

Perhaps Smith’s death can encourage some young person to avoid drugs. Maybe her early demise can move another young person away from the whole sex business. It’s possible that her sad life will motivate another person to try a different road. Then again, maybe Anna Nicole Smith will remind Christians about who God loves, and who Jesus died for. Just maybe we’ll get the point that Jesus didn’t die for all the good guys but for sinners. He didn’t die to mock their sins, he died to forgive their sins.

We still need to ask, “What would Jesus have done with her?”