I have seen a few more deaths and funerals recently, both by attending, and those celebrity figures we see in the media. No one is exempt, but sometimes I notice a gulf between the life lived and the eulogy at the funeral. Now, I know we don’t speak ill of the dead, and I don’t want to do that, but just make a couple of general observations.
The story is told of an old farmer’s widow who was at the funeral service of her husband of many years. On hearing all the good things that were being said by the minister, she turned to her adult son and asked him to have a look in the open coffin to see if it really was his paw in there. It might be funny, but I think we can all relate. My first observation is that the things said at a funeral will sometimes bear little resemblance to the person we knew in life. It is a refreshing relief when it does, and the truth of a Godly life comes as a real comfort to the family.
The second observation for me is more significant and serious. Although there is a lot made of the dead person’s life, practically nothing is mentioned about the afterlife. It’s as if the destination of heaven is assumed as a foregone conclusion, no matter the life of unforgiven sins and abuses committed over many years. Truth is I feel sorry for the Pastor or Minister who is officiating. If they know the one who has passed from this scene of time, they must know the truth of the matter. Maybe they are speaking with fingers crossed behind their back.
I believe we are being numbed to the thought of our eternal destiny because it can be an uncomfortable prospect. There are programs on TV and radio about accepting our dying process, but nothing about what happens after we die. It can be convenient to think that there is nothing! With that thought in mind, there are clinics which will help you to die ‘with dignity’. However, if we claim to be Christians, we must accept the basic doctrine of life after death, whether in heaven or hell. That’s the problem, it’s hell we don’t want to face up to, so we gush over the good memories and gloss over the stuff that is more likely to mean an eternal destiny of hell. We can only do something about it while we are here in the one life we have. For my part, I am happy to leave the final, eternal, judgement to God and not to any imperfect and flawed human being in a clinic, or even in a collar. It’s a sobering thought!
People have to die once. After that, God will judge them. Hebrews 9:21 NIRV