Christians and funerals

I recently had the opportunity to view a Hindu funeral.

At first, it fascinated me because of the elaborate ritual. Spices, herbs and other foods combined to serve a specific purpose in the ritual. Rose petals were added to prepare the body for its final purpose – cremation. This supposedly releases the soul.

Before the cremation, the Hindu priest gave his funeral message, self-translating from his native language into English.

It was a little hard to understand, but I had no trouble understanding him when he burst out, “This life is all there is. After this, for you, there is nothing.”

Wow, that’s a bit fatalistic. In the end, we all face “nothing?”

How tragic. I must confess that I got a bit worked up over that one. I wanted to start talking to those around me about Jesus, or handing out tracts or finding a Gideon to give out New Testaments.

Source: Wikimedia

Funeral, by Duccio di Buoninsegna

I restrained myself, because I saw the priest step aside to let others speak.

The message the man’s Christian friends offered in their eulogies wasn’t much better. It depressed me even more, because these people should have known better. They talked about how the deceased will be floating around out there watching over his family and friends. He’ll be experiencing their sorrows and joys and laughing over the old times he shared with all of us.

What? I’m sorry, I missed the Bible verse that talks about Paul looking forward to experiencing an after-life watching Timothy be a minister. No, he was looking forward to being with his Lord and Savior.

Their speeches sounded more like the after-life from “Star Wars,” where you fade into a hazy shade of human, yet continue to mentor your friends.

I get that human nature is to console the bereaved. We don’t like to think of friends dying and going to hell. Anyway, it’s probably not good funeral etiquette to jump up there and start telling about the man being in hell because he didn’t repent during life and trust Christ as his savior.

Yet we cannot let our fellow humans wallow in this self-deceit that everything will be okay, one day. No, no. Without Christ, it won’t be.

As important as it is to tell non-believers about the Good News of Jesus, I think in today’s society it is almost as important to bring that Gospel to the churched. People are sitting in those comfy chairs week after week, and not hearing the truth of the Bible.

We need to take the time we have now with our loved ones to show what truly Biblical Christianity looks like – both in what we say and how we live it – really live it. Our actions should reflect the message we speak.

Our friends and family should have no doubt how our Christian faith affects our lives, because they see us living out what we say we believe. I never really thought about it until after that Hindu funeral, but living out a Christ-filled life is one of the best ways to “love our neighbor.”

They should hear us talk about Christ’s salvation, and see the results of accepting Christ as Lord in how we live our lives. Our words and deeds should always bring glory to God through Christ.

Not a god that promises them suffering on earth and a bleak nothingness after death – and not a god who allows their incorporeal bodies to float around like Casper – but glory to the God who created them and wants them to repent of their sins so they can spend an eternity with Him.

That should be the joyous side of a funeral – a Christian going home; absent from the body of Earthly pain and suffering, and present with their Lord and Savior.


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