“I can’t believe Paul Walker is gone.”
“RIP, Paul Walker.”
As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, over and over again I saw the national bereavement of a cultural icon. It seemed obvious from the outpouring of emotion that Paul Walker must have been a man who touched many lives and made a marked difference in the world.
In those few moments of social networking, I was speechless at the fact that someone so obviously important to the American population had died. The question that first entered my mind upon the revelation of such tragic news was not, “I wonder how Paul Walker died?!” The question for me, instead, was, “Who was Paul Walker?” Sure that this person was a national hero of some sort, I asked everyone in the room who Paul Walker was and, like myself, no one present with me at the time knew who this person was that was creating such a storm of emotion in the world of social media.
It didn’t take long before I became aware that Paul Walker was a Hollywood superstar. I had never seen him in a movie, I had never met him, as a matter of fact, I had never even heard of him, so obviously his death had a different effect on me. I was saddened at the senseless loss of a human life, but I was not crushed as though my world would fall apart.
I must admit, some of the reactions I have read over the past few days have left me in more wonderment than the accident that is causing all the commotion did. I am wide-eyed in awe at the number of people who never even met Paul Walker but are crushed in spirit as though they just lost a dad, a brother, or a close personal friend. It is a grim reminder to me of just how mesmerized society has become with the “rich n famous” and how enamored we are with their lives. We see a few hours of them in a movie, a sitcom, or on a stage and they become heroes to us. Our hearts well up with affection and adoration and quickly the stars who portray characters that make us feel good about life become real life heroes – and idols – to us. More often the not, the mourning is not a genuine concern for the individual or their family. The grief is really a personalized emotion that causes a sadness in us for “us”. We will miss them in movies. We will miss the fantasy their characters helped us slide into. We will miss the good feelings we had while engaging their craft. Our mourning really is about us, if we dare to be honest.
The news keeps streaming in, the pictures are everywhere – people mourning a man they never even knew. I wonder how many have even stopped to think of eternity.
I saw an article from the Christian Post that Paul Walker had identify himself as a Christian and that is very good news. We can rest assured that because he was in a relationship with Jesus Christ, He is now in the presence of a loving God. That should give hope and joy. However, the grim reality is that people die around us every single day. Some we know and some we do not. But the question is the same for them all: Did they die with or without knowing Jesus.
The first thought that hits me when I hear of another death is wondering if the deceased knew Jesus. It makes me ever more aware of the responsibility we have to share our faith while we still can. The real tragedy in death is not death itself; it is death without Christ. May we be ever more diligent in doing our part to share the Good News while we still can. People are depending on us to ensure that they have the opportunity to know Jesus before it’s too late.