I hate celebrity culture. I could almost say that I hate celebrities, especially when they fund their addiction to fame out of my pocket through my TV licence, but in Christian love I have to renounce that hate.
But the story of one celebrity has touched my heart – that of Jade Goody, who is dying of cancer but has taken this opportunity to have herself and her two young sons baptised. Sally has written a moving post about this story, with this quote, Jade recalling a conversation with one of the boys:
When I told them I was going to Heaven, Freddie said to me: ‘Heaven is a bad place, it’s where people go when they die.’
And I said: ‘No, that’s not right. It’s where people who are poorly go to get better.’
I’m not sure how much Jade understands about the Christian faith. But it is clear that she trusts in Jesus and in God to take her to heaven when she dies, which could be very soon, and she wants her sons to do the same. I’m not much of a believer in baptism of those too young to make a clear Christian profession, but in this case I see the point of it. Jade’s Christian witness, even if imperfect, can touch the nation. Let’s pray that it does. Let’s pray also for her in what may be her last few days, and for her children as they face life without a mother.
But I can’t help wondering something. I agree with Jade that heaven is “where people who are poorly go to get better”. I also believe that the church is meant to be a foretaste of heaven on earth. Heaven is not so much where good people go when they die as the presence of God, which we can know here today among God’s people. So then shouldn’t the church be the place “where people who are poorly go to get better”? At the moment I don’t have much faith to pray for healing for Jade on this earth. But surely this is what we as Christians should be praying.