Today I went to a funeral for a guy that I was friends with as a kid. He’s just a few months older than me and he died this past weekend of pneumonia and complications that came from the surgery to fix his pneumonia.
One thing that struck me funny at the funeral was how the guy officiating did not know the guy that the funeral was for, and said he wouldn’t act like he did. That’s not the funny part. What’s funny is that I’ve been to a couple funerals where the officiator makes the person sound a lot holier and better than they were, but different from the way that they were actually really holy, or actually really a great person.
I remember when my step-brother Jake was killed in a car wreck. At the funeral the lady pastor that didn’t know him made him sound like he was Billy Graham. He was a normal, plain, down to earth guy-which is great! He didn’t have to be made into someone else at his funeral. I remember my step-mom and step-sister commenting “who were they talking about??” and chuckling.
I think there is also something that needs to be said about the obligatory “gospel” message that happens at every funeral and wedding you go to. I think the idea is that since a lot of people that DON’T go to church are here, as a captive audience, we’d better preach the gospel.
Well I don’t know about the wedding, but at a funeral, it comes across as a surprise Amway meeting. It seems like a very vulnerable time to strike with the threat of damnation and Jesus as the key out of it. I’ve heard a guy say that he will never pimp the people he serves. He shows no pictures of them and never tells a story of their¬†desperate¬†needs. He just talks about us living our lives for Jesus.
It’s the same for the weddings and funerals. When the preacher says, “Dan would want me to tell you that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved.” if you never heard me say that or saw me live it, it comes across as a hoax. It’s exactly the same at a wedding. The guys sitting in the back that know the real me would say, “That guy is making this stuff up to get us to come to his church.” and blow off the preacher.
It reminds me of a story in “The Signature of Jesus” by Brennan Manning. The jist of it is that there is an old white man in a cell serving a life sentence next to another young, muscular, black man. After a few years the old man dies. It turns out he was passing his leftovers over to the young man that needed more to eat, and when he did he would tell the young man about Jesus. At the old man’s funeral, the prison chaplain says a bunch of stuff, taking the opportunity to use his captive audience to talk about Jesus. At the end, the young man stands up, points to the casket, and says, “THAT man was the only Jesus I ever knew!”
I think there is also an insecurity at funerals. There seems to be a drive to convince and be convinced that the person that died went to ‘heaven.’ I know it wouldn’t be very comforting for the family to tell them their loved one is in hell, but I think it is really really dangerous how many people become universalists at funerals.
Heh. I just realized something. The person preaching at the funeral talks like we’d better get our house in order or we’re doomed (extreme #1) and the people talking to each other talk like everybody ends up in the same happy Precious Moments Angel Heaven anyway (extreme #2).
My last word is this, as I realize that this has turned into a big gripe/rant, (sorry about that). This one is about my own funeral.
If anybody gives any kind of plea about how I would want to see you again so you’d better get saved, will you punch them in the face? No offense, but at that point, I’m going to be eye to eye with Jesus, and I probably won’t think of anybody else but Him for about the first 12 million years or so. All of my hopes and needs and voids and everything will be fulfilled fully in Him. So don’t get saved and expect to see me waiting at the gate for you when you come. I mean, I’m glad you’re there and all, but, well, you know, I’ll be with JESUS.
Go to Jesus today, and expect to see The One waiting for you that has been waiting for you since the beginning of time. He’s the one worth dying to meet.