We observed a funeral for one of our greatest servants over the weekend, Juanita Gaines. Bro. Don Reed and I were sharing together about how beautiful it is to reflect on the life of a dear Christian. Bro. Mike Lee, a pastor friend of mine from Tennessee, writes about why he likes Christian funerals. I believe he expresses well our feelings about those who die in the Lord:
Psalm 116:15 (ESV)
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
While there is a sense that death isn’t the way things are supposed to be, there is also a preciousness to the death of a saint of our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the occupational requirements of a pastor is to be acquainted with sickness and death. From hospital visits to funeral home visits, pastors know sickness and death up close and personal.
Every time I have the privilege of preaching a funeral for a man or woman who has lived for the Savior, I feel incredibly close to the Lord. There are
several reasons I like Christian funerals:
1. Christian funerals make much of Jesus. While I want to comfort the family and remember the one who has died, I get the joy of focusing on the Savior for whom he/she lived.
2. Christian funerals share the gospel. What has Jesus accomplished that allows us to be comforted even in the face of death? He has taken away death’s sting and victory! How? Through His atoning death and victorious resurrection!
3. Christian funerals give feet to the expression “grieving with hope.” I’ve officiated funerals for those who were probably unsaved. I’ve seen the unsaved friends and family. They either sit with blank faces, make a mockery of death, or weep uncontrollably. These people have no hope.
Christian funerals show the beauty of hope in the midst of sadness. Are Christians sad at funerals? Yes they are. Are they hopeless? No they aren’t! At every Christian funeral I focus on the hope of the resurrection by saying, “For Christians we never have to say ‘good-bye,’ we just say see you later!”
4. Christian funerals remind us that should the Lord tarry, we will face death. How will we die? My great hope is that if I die suddenly, the previous 24 hours, days, and weeks will show that Jesus was my treasure. If I should die after an extended illness, my hope is that those around me will see and hear of my love for the Savior. I want my death to bring glory to God.
5. Selfishly, Christian funerals make my job easier. From time to time I say to the folks at church, “Live your life in such a manner that I won’t have to lie about you at your funeral!” Christian funerals allow me to focus on who’s really important, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I thank the Lord for Christian funerals. So, may I ask you…how will you die?
Let’s live for Jesus and share Him with everyone!
- - Bro. Dave