February 9, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith

This may seem like a strange post for a blog that focus on various aspects of ministry. Yesterday, as I sat in a hospital waiting room (mother-in-law was having surgery), I heard the news that Anna Nicole Smith was found dead in her hotel room.

Here is the thing, reading her bio is like watching a train wreck. My mother-in-law's pastor was sitting with me at the hospital. His response was, "That's the result of a series of bad choices!" And it certainly is the result of her choices...a life filled with one bad decision after another.

I am not the most compassionate person in the world, but I had this deep sense of sorrow for her as I listened to the report. Here is a woman who's father left the family at a young age, she has multiple half-siblings, and her family was very poor. She was pregnant at seventeen, worked as a waitress and at Walmart, and eventually posed for Playboy. She worked as a stripper, married an 86 year-old man, and her son recently died. Her life has been tragic, to say the least. (For more, see here.)

It would be easy for people to look down their nose at her, but the reality is that we all live in a broken world. Sometimes people make the decisions they do because they don't realize there is another way out there. I think a person can escape from these situations and learn to make good decisions, but it is extremely difficult. She seems to have done what she could to survive. What we see is someone who needed to be loved and wanted to be wanted. She had felt rejected and inadequate her whole life. Add to that the media/Hollywood aspect of her life, and she was set up to NEVER feel adequate. She just happened to live out this tragedy in front of a camera.

Jesus Christ came to atone for people like Anna, and, if we are honest, we are all a little like Anna. We all want to be loved, we want to feel adequate and accepted. We want to be wanted. We haven't made some of the mistakes Anna has made, but for some of us it is only a matter of opportunity. Jesus continues to speak through his church to those who feel inadequate and need to be loved.

I often wonder how many people like Anna are lost because no one from the church stepped up and did something. The church seems willing to sit around and argue about Calvinist vs. Arminianism, Contemporary vs. Liturgical, In but not Of, Grace vs. Accountability, etc, etc. Meanwhile, people like Anna are being lost and beginning the downward spiral of bad choices everyday.

Two things that Jesus said continue to deeply affect me.

1. The gates of hell will not stand against his Kingdom. Gates are a defensive mechanism. This means that we, as the Church, should be continually attacking the gates of hell and reclaiming territory for God's Kingdom and doing it in His name.

2. He left the 99 sheep to go in search of the 1. God used this passage from Matthew to call me into ministry, and it has been my passion ever since. We are called to reach lost, broken people for Jesus. Not because we want to add some spiritual notch in our belt, but because Jesus offers grace, love, acceptance, and healing.

What do you think?


  1. Jesus obviously had a heart for people who were in Anna Nicoles same spot in life. Look at the woman caught in adultery for example. His grace is often far an above what we show to others, particularly in her situation. Most tend to think of all the money she had and all that, but not think about the complete emptiness that she had on the inside.

  2. Eloquent as ever, Eric. Eloquent as ever.

    I visited a seminary last fall that's in one of the more rough areas of Kansas City. The school had several vandelism reports, some auto thefts, etc. But they refused to put a gate around it. I loved that, because anything else sends the wrong message. The last thing in the world Jesus wants is for us to put gates around anything - our buildings, our lives, our hearts.

  3. Very well put, Eric. I found myself thinking the same things as I watched the story unfold on the little TV screen in the corner of the Dairy Queen dining area... people were crowded around the set, conjecturing and making all kinds of comments about her as if she were something worse than they.

    A slightly related note, adding to the sadness of the situation... all the people who claimed to want her or love her at some point... what are they doing now? Fighting with each other over who gets her expensive stuff, her baby (who will inherit a lot of money and make daddy very rich)... It shows you the stuff that some people are made of.

    It's sad.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate them.