This piece was also featured as a nationally syndicated column with Gannett.
Five years ago this week, on January 8th, 2015, my husband Toby and I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Yup, I said Memphis. Why? Because Memphis is the home of “The King,” Elvis Presley, born January 8, 1935. And for many, the King has reached an almost holy status.
I know this to be true from our tour of Graceland. As we waited in line for tickets under a sign that said “Enter the Blingdom,” I turned to one of the guides and asked, “So, Elvis would have been 80 years old today?”
The surrounding crowd gasped. The guide looked at me with shock and whispered, “We don’t use the past tense here.” She then pointed to her t-shirt, which read “Graceland, where Elvis LIVES.”
It didn’t matter that no one there had actually seen Elvis since he stopped walking the earth over forty years ago. Elvis fans don’t care.
Without any concrete proof, they believe he lives. Elvis lives, baby. The King lives!
It’s a shame we don’t all have that kind of faith in our heavenlyKing. Oh, how our lives might change.
For example, because Elvis fans believe he lives, they share their love of the King in all they do.They wear Elvis clothing, decorate their homes with Elvis paraphernalia, even water their yards with Elvis. In fact, my favorite item in the gift shop was an Elvis sprinkler that swivels his hips as he waters your grass.
What if we shared our faith that clearly? As 1 John 2:6 says, “Those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did.” If we believe the King lives, then we should share his love in every aspect of our lives.
Elvis fans also work to build community with other believers. There are over 400 Elvis fan clubs worldwide. There are also Elvis churches, such as The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine. (That’s not a typo. Google it if you don’t believe me.)
Elvis fans understand the power of community, and so should we. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Living a life of faith is not easy. We need the support of others to stay strong and grounded on our journey.
Elvis fans serve as role models in another way, too: If you believe the King lives, you will actively seek him. Elvis fans are constantly looking for the King. And sometimes they find him! There have been Elvis sightings all over the world—from a spa in Tokyo to a Burger King in Michigan. There was even a woman who claimed that she saw Elvis’ face in a taco shell at Chi-Chi’s.
If we believe the King lives, we will seek him as Jesus commanded in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” If we begin to seek Christ truly, we, too, may start to see his face materialize in places we never saw him before, such as in the eyes of a stranger, the face of an immigrant, or the expression of someone who is hungry, thirsty, or homeless.
The Christian faith is not passive. It is a faith of action. It should make us want to bring in the kingdom—or the blingdom—or whatever it takes to ease the suffering of this world. Perhaps Elvis said it best: “Music and religion are similar because both should make you wanna move.”
Sometime this week, find a quiet moment and ask yourself, “Do I believe?” From the deepest parts of your heart, the answer will surely come.
He lives. He lives, baby. The King lives!
— A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. The author of Laugh Your Way to Grace and Preaching Punchlines, Susan is a nationally known speaker on the healing power of humor. Contact her through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or her website, www.SusanSparks.com.