I was talking with a person a while back about a funeral they attended…and I was saddened by what I heard. I was saddened because it didn’t sound like the Gospel was preached. When I asked how the funeral went they said things like:
“It was a great celebration of their life.”
“It was very upbeat.”
“Fun stories were shared about him.”
“He lived a very good life.”
There was nothing about the Gospel. Maybe it was preached but those comments sure don’t sound like that is what they heard. What this person remembers are stories and remembrances of the past. I wish I would have challenged them more but being in a public place I shied away from confronting them…but maybe I should have.
[A missed opportunity]
I also remember another conversation (by the way…I am preparing for a funeral this week, that is why these memories are bubbling up). This conversation was with a family. I was meeting with them but was unable to do the funeral because of a prior commitment. Luckily they had a family member who was a pastor so they were going to lead worship. Through the course of the meeting the daughter was talking about the service and wanted lots of stories about her mother. I chimed in and said a funeral has nothing to do with the deceased but everything to do with Jesus and what he has done for you and for me. This was the response I got:
“Well…at my funeral you are going to talk about me!”
I really wanted to argue but I decided that wasn’t the place. Besides…at her funeral she won’t have any say what I talk about 🙂
Why am I bring this up?
As I prepare for a funeral one of the things I am keenly aware of is that there could very easily be people there who normally do not attend worship. These people only enter a worship space on Easter, Christmas, funerals and weddings. They go through life without hearing the Good News. So when they do finally show up in a worship space you just can not miss that opportunity. You have to smack them right between the eyes with the Gospel, not fun stories about the deceased. The dead person’s past life is not going to help them. The only thing that will help is Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection; the victory he won FOR YOU and FOR ME.
Too many people in the world today water down the Gospel with the prosperity gospel (which is NO gospel at all; not good news). The prosperity gospel says that if you believe hard enough, are a good person and keep your nose to the grindstone, you can be successful (to have your best life now). If bad things happen then you somehow fell short. Please do not buy into this false gospel.
Once again…that is NOT good news.
And it bugs me to no end that this message is being preached by many so called ministers out there; leading people astray. What they are doing is simply preaching a message that people WANT to hear, not what they NEED to hear.
What people need to hear is:
–We are sinners and can not survive this life on our own.
–There is hope.
–We have a savior in Jesus.
–That through faith in Christ there is forgiveness of our sins.
–That there is NOTHING we can do to earn, merit or deserve this grace.
–God loves you!
So when I prepare a funeral sermon (or any sermon for that matter) I try to keep in mind what people need to hear…and let them have it.
So as I prepare for this funeral on Thursday I am winding up and preparing myself to smack people right between the eyes with the TRUE Gospel. And I pray that God will use the words I say to change someone’s life. All to God’s glory.
So if you are reading this and coming on Thursday, get ready because I will be bringing it 🙂
Praise be to God!