Reflecting upon the Life and Death of Prince

We are only a few months into 2016, and another titan of the music industry has passed away. The year began with the news of the passing Bowie, Merle and now we have learned about the passing of pop legend Prince.

Recently, news outlets and social media broke the story that Prince had died at the age of 57. Only a couple weeks afterwards we now know that Prince died due to an overdose on Opioid painkillers. Prince’s career and legacy spanned through four decades. Rolling Stone ranked Prince as the 27th greatest artist of all time. In a twist of tragic irony, Prince’s death took place similar to that of his song “Let’s go crazy.”

Let’s Go Crazy

In one of Prince’s most popular songs, “Let’s go crazy,” Prince wrote about the brevity of life and refusing to allow life to restrain you. Prince began this song by saying, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” As he examined life, he made a call to make much of the little time that you have.

Multiple times throughout the song, Prince references refusing to “allow the elevator to bring us down.” Prince’s words almost seem prophetic by the time he says the lines, “We're all excited, but we don't know why. Maybe it's ‘cause we're all gonna die. And when we do, what's it all for? You better live now. Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door.” Prince recognized the brevity of life and the inevitable conclusion that everyone will one day face death.

No matter how hard one may rebel, the inevitable result of that rebellion against the elevator is vanity. No amount of exercise or careful watch over one’s diet can keep a person from this fate. The rich and the poor ultimately have the same fate. Shall we then, as the hedonist, strive to exhaust our joy here on earth? If this is all there is, then “YOLO.” Right?

Solomon was right when he stated, "All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return." The elevator will be lowered for all. When its doors open, we will all face the certain judgment. All of humanity will certainly return to dust, unless God speaks new life into the dust. In Genesis 2:7, we are told that God formed man from the dust of the ground. Not only was this how humanity was created, but it also how humanity is re-created.  

Old and New Creation

In John 9, Jesus encountered a man who was born blind. While discussions carried on about who sinned to cause this man to be born blind, Jesus explained that the purpose of this man’s blindness was to display the glory of God. Jesus then spit into the dirt, rubbed the mud in the blind man’s eyes and told him go wash it off. The blind man walked away having been healed of his blindness.  

It could be easy to miss John’s consistent references back to Genesis and its significance in this account. The author of Genesis begins telling the story of Creation with, “In the beginning.” Then, John begins his Gospel using this same phrase. John tells the story of how God, through Jesus, is recreating the world and making all things news. And in John 9, Jesus comes to this man marred by the old creation, spits into the dust and speaks new life into him. Out of the old creation, Christ makes something new. The result of Christ’s work is that the man goes about proclaiming what Christ has done.

Resurrection and a new hope

The hope of our resurrection and new life in Christ give value to life here on earth. They make it so we can enjoy—and redeem—this life and the many gifts God has given us, rather than fear the unknown. This is why Paul could say, "If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die (1 Cor. 15:32)." If there is no resurrection to new life, then we should heed the advice of Prince, “Let's go crazy. Let's get nuts. Let's look for the purple banana,'til they put us in the truck, let's go!”

For the Christian, though, there is no need to fret the “elevator ride.” When difficulties and life struggles come along, the Christian can take them both in stride. The Christian message declares that there is more to life than all the difficulties that the elevator ride may bring. Paul, a man acquainted with many difficulties, declared these to be a “light momentary affliction that is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” The struggles and pains of this world are certainly real, but keeping them in perspective will help to as James says, “count them as joy.”

Everyone wants to be like the exalted savior, but no one wants to be like the suffering savior. We have no need “to fight and go crazy” when troubles arise. As Russell Moore once wisely stated, “Let’s eat, drink and be merry, because yesterday we were dead.” In the meantime, let us sit back and enjoy the ride. In between the floors and elevator music, be like the blind man and strike up a conversation with the person beside you and tell about all the great things the Lord has done for you.