A Time To Be Born, A Time To Die
Death is never easy. Whether saint or sinner, hearing about the passing of another person does something to my heart. All of humankind has an appointed time of birth, and for most, a set time to pass. As believers, we know that this life is a temporary sojourn, where our final condition has more influence than our birth. Life is a journey filled with falls, rises, failures, and successes, yet no matter how rough the journey is, Jesus can redeem the greatest of sinners.
If people were the ultimate judge, the Kingdom of Heaven would be an empty home. Thankfully, you and I have the just and all-knowing Heavenly Father who has the final say for those who have genuinely given their lives over to Him.
Jesus said in Matthew 21:31-32, “…Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”
We all have lived immorally, some with dirtier pasts than others. But, that does not limit God’s ability to save any willing soul. The powerful passage above illuminates the depths of Jesus’ blood if people do one thing – repent. No matter who or what we were, if we give our lives to Jesus, we can receive the gift of salvation and inherit eternal life.
This is what happened to who the world knew as “Little Richard” (December 5, 1932 – May 9, 2020).
What Past? Honor the New Creature.
As I read many articles sharing the passing of Brother Penniman, most of them focused on his flamboyant past and rock-n-roll history, with little mention of his return to Christ in 2017.
I applaud earlier articles from Charisma News and Christian Today that shared his conversion. Each piece detailed Penniman’s encounter with God, where God expressed displeasure in his musical and sexual past. In them, Brother Richard shares his testimony of turning from homosexuality and rock-n-roll.
Now, some believers may disagree that God rejects secular music, but I genuinely believe this to be true. Often music that many may consider as innocent entertainment is filled with subliminal messaging and direct magnification of all manner of sin. Sure, music originated from God, but God will never approve anything He created to dishonor His law.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” A clean slate is a gift only given through Christ, and Brother Richard confessed Jesus and had evidential fruit.
Behold All Things Become New
I enjoyed watching one of his last appearances, as he was almost unrecognizable. He ditched the wigs and makeup, and even his talk was different. His famous “shut-up” was not said. No music, no singing, just Brother Richard glorifying Jesus. That is what should be praised – not a past eradicated by the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood.
I read many comments from people debating the time Penniman spent as a believer. Many alleged that because he lived most of his life in sin and abomination, that disqualified him from the Kingdom. But, if you are one to think the same, let me direct you to Matthew 20:1-16, where Jesus shares the parable about laborers who come at different times but still receive the same pay.
No matter when we accept Jesus, the payment of salvation is the same. Just ask the thief on the cross.
Do We Adequately Honor The Brethren?
The day of May 9, 2020 came and went, and I sat back and watched just how much the Church would share their condolences for the loss of Brother Penniman. Many shared it, only as news, but not honoring him as a soul that entered the Kingdom of God.
What I find interesting is that when celebrities who have never confessed Jesus or repented die, they often receive much more honor from the Church than fellow believers. Recall when Prince passed, pastors had their sanctuaries filled with purple and sang remakes of Purple Rain as if it were a song that glorified God. Yet, when Evangelist Denise Mathews, formerly known as Vanity, passed, much of the Church was silent. Evangelist Mathews was a beautiful woman of God, who forsook the world to serve the Lord. She should have received the honor from the Church.
So, What’s The Play Call?
The Lord put this matter in my heart for two reasons:
- To give honor to a man of God, not for his accomplishments in the world, but for the courage to walk away from a passion and fame. A man who submitted himself to God, despite a shameful past and the world’s applause. A man of God who was not given the proper respect from the Church.
- To give you something to think about. I want us as believers to do better at honoring the brethren. Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Concluding, I honor Brother Richard Penniman in his final and greatest state, in which He was a believer, servant, and evangelist of Jesus Christ. I hope you do the same. I bless God for his life, as I know it will serve as an inspiration to many who feel they are too far off for God’s redemption. I rejoice because while he is absent in body, Brother Richard Penniman is ever-present with the Lord.
I pray for the comfort of the family and loved ones of Brother Penniman.