Confession #1 I feel like trying to possibly cleverly title my blog post is really fun and it will continue to happen.
Confession #2 This blog is way late. Sorry Nate.
It’s my first week in a foreign land. This lady has a cut on her hand that we are treating. I’m preaching at her mother’s funeral service (now that escalated quickly). See there is this phenomenon in this particular country with white missionaries and preaching. If you have one, he has to do it. So here I am being asked to speak at the funeral service of a woman who more than likely did not know Jesus Christ as Lord (which means hell instead of heaven). Let’s skip forward in this story to week 2. A preacher friend of ours had a lady in his congregation pass away. She is the only Christian in her family. The family was gracious enough to allow the church to have a small service before the catholic process would take place. Guess who was asked to speak? Yep, this guy.
I had never been confronted with death of this magnitude. I mean sure when I was young an older uncle died of cancer, great grandmother passed away, a classmate in 6th grade (I have also had a grandfather pass away, but this happened after my encounter overseas). All of which I was assured had faith in Christ and will be in Heaven. However, it is a little different when you must speak about Heaven and Hell. See I didn’t know either of the ladies that died. I only knew that as I talked there would be a corpse besides me and a Bible in my hand. See I was confronted not with the grief that one associates with funerals. I was confronted with death itself, the concept, the reality. It was me and God and death. See in that first encounter I had but hours to figure out what to preach. Up to this moment in my life… I had never preached a sermon. Now I’m preaching funerals. So what happened?
I developed a way that I will forever look at death. I firmly believe in the Word of God. It tells me that with Christ there is life in heaven after death. Without Christ there is hell. So when it comes to the death of a Christian, I celebrate and speak of words of celebration and how to join in that celebration. When it comes to the death of an unChristian, I am overwhelmed with sadness. Eternal death. I have nothing but the Gospel at times like these. I merely preach the Gospel. I offer the Gospel to those listening. I consider my duty done and I move on. I can’t handle that kind of sadness. I have to move on to those that are still living.
Life is about the living.
Christ is living. You and I are living. Those that died a Christian are to live with Christ eternally. When it comes to death, I focus on the living. That is my secret. I will say thankfully those are the only two funerals I have preached. I have only had to listen to one lost widower tell me how he wished he could be dead with his wife. I got to let him know that death will not help him see her again. Only Christ, the living, can do that.
I have since had a much closer witness to death. We call it Gross Anatomy’s cadaver lab. Surrounded by dead people. It was like I gained a sixth sense (see what I did there?). I had to literally mutilate a human body. I’m sorry but that is honestly what it takes to learn it. We call it dissecting and learning, and while it is those things. It is still horrific. I am in a great debt to the man who donated his body for me to learn. It was so sad and twisted, except for it will enable me to better serve the living. Life is how you get past death. Life precedes death. Death cannot exist until life lets it. Then death wins…. well it used to. Christ defeated death though. He “rewrote the book” on death. He made life both precede and follow death.
You give me death, I give you Christ. It is my only way out. It is the only way to have joy and life after death. Whether that death is in the 1st or 3rd person perspective, I still give you Christ.
For the blog post that inspired this post, check out FishTheAbyss
P.S. I might still edit this one, but I’m gonna go ahead and publish.