I have been baffling over this anomaly for some time: Why do people come to a church to celebrate death rather than life? Despite the efforts of Christian witnesses in telling people that Jesus loves them and inviting them to church, many have never darkened the doors of a church. They will never celebrate when a family member tells them that they are saved from sin and are getting baptized. In some cases, they will avoid the person or pass them off as a nutcase, fanatic, hypocrite or an enemy. However, they will turn up in droves to honor the deceased, even they ignore them in life.
Pastors will often report that congregants that they haven’t seen for years, and some they don’t even know, will call them at the oddest time of the day to ask them to eulogize a family member even if the deceased showed contempt for the church during their lifetime. Families want to save face at the wrong time. However, pastors will honor their requests in order not to add to their grief and to take the opportunity to preach the word of God to the living. Recently, Pastor Chris McNairy of Decision Point Ministries, opened a funeral service with his sermon and not at the end, as is customary. It made a difference because about twenty-two people responded to his message. I mention him not because he is my pastor, but because his focus was on the salvation of souls and not on death.
He was in lock-step with what Jesus demonstrated to his disciples in Luke 9 that it was more important to preach the gospel than to bury the dead. Jesus asked a man to follow Him who made the excuse that he had to bury his father before obeying the request therefore: Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God”(v. 60. NIV).
How often are funerals taken up with eulogizing the dead than with exhorting the living to think about eternity? We must think about what we are doing when we attend a funeral. If the deceased is a follower of Christ, surely, we are celebrating a life well spent because we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. On the other hand, if the deceased has not accepted Jesus Christ into their heart, we are essentially celebrating their passage into hell. Morbid as it may sound, that’s the reality. No one wants to think that hell is a real place and that people we love can go there. However, it is true that good people can go there if they do not accept Jesus into their lives.
Talk about the “dead burying the dead!” That’s exactly who we are when we do not know Jesus and we go to bury the physically dead. Saying all the wonderful things about your dead loved one , a friend, or celebrity will not influence where they spend eternity – their life with or without Christ is the deciding factor. Why don’t you accept Jesus into your heart today or encourage someone that you love to do so? There’s nothing to lose. If you do, someone can genuinely rejoice when you die, and you can do the same for someone else. You may weep because you may miss their touch, smile, or their word – but you’ll weep with hope.
Think about it. If God did not know that hell was a terrible place, he would not have sacrificed His only Son. In the first place, hell was not created for us. It was created for Satan and his minions. God created man in his resemblance because He wanted us to be a part of Him, and not unlike Him. Sin separated us from Him, but God did not want us to languish in it and die without hope. Therefore, He sent His Son to give us life and life more abundantly. Let’s choose life now!