Monday, March 01, 2010

Life & Death

Our church has been in operation for two and a half years and as of last month, I had yet to do a funeral for someone in our congregation. I had done other funerals for family and friends, but not for anyone in our church. And then in two months, two members of our church have gone to be with the Lord. One was Aaron Williams, a 29 year old who fought a 13 year battle with cancer. Aaron was a charter member of our church along with his wife Tara and was a faithful servant of God right up to the end. The other was a man named Jerry Burnaugh, a 73 year old who also fought a long battle with cancer. He passed away last Thursday and his funeral is tomorrow. Jerry had been disconnected from church before he started attending our services about 18 months ago. He was baptized in the swimming pool in Stone Oak in August of 2008 as a testimony to his faith in Jesus Christ. About a month ago, as he sensed that he was not feeling well, he approached me after church and told me that he wanted to let me know that his "faith was totally in Jesus."

Both of these experiences have just reminded me about the serious nature of the message we proclaim. As a young man myself, I can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I will live forever and that death is something that is always "far away." When I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes a few years ago, that view of the world took its first hit. But as we have said goodbye to two godly men in the last month, I have been challenged again to consider what is most important. We know in our minds that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, but rarely do we live with the urgency that this kind of worldview should produce. Maybe our hearts just don't want to deal with the reality of life and death. We would rather just think about life.

But as we meditate on the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can approach death with new hope and joy. I have always known that Jesus' death and resurrection gave us a new view of life and death, but only recently am I fully grasping the nature of what Jesus accomplished. Without His sacrifice, we would be utterly hopeless. And many people, rather than face the hopelessness of their own worldview, simply distract themselves from the reality of death. But time will not allow us that privilege forever. Death comes for us all. And yet Jesus has overcome the grave. I hope that you are prepared for that day. I hope that you are daily trusting in the only person who has ever defeated death. Then, and only then, can you saw with the apostle Paul:

Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

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