Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan your host of the Daily Challenges. Here we are in nature. And that’s because this week we’re studying how following Jesus resets our views of death, and in fact, Jesus resets death itself.
I have led a number of funeral services, and sometimes hear some troubling things. One of my first was a difficult funeral for a young child. As we planned the funeral, I remember the child’s grandmother trying to comfort her daughter. She said God must have needed another angel in heaven. I remember wondering whether to say anything or not. I could let it slide as a harmless attempt to make someone feel better – but what happens when she learns that humans never become angels? What happens when she gets angry with God for stealing her child for his “personal collection”? I decided the gospel was even better news to share than this sentimental idea about children becoming angels, and told her about the gospel or good news of Jesus instead. Ultimately that is news that will last and will transform her life, not just nice ideas that don’t hold water.
Remember this passage we explored on Tuesday?
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thess 4:13-14
Paul said all this stuff to the Thessalonians to encourage appropriate Christian grief, not the wild wailing of pagan funerals. He wants to give them confidence, and assurance that death is not something to fear. The number one reason: they have hope.
One person who follows Redeem the Commute is preparing for the death of a family member. She said to me that her family members are upset, then looked at me and said, “We see it differently, right?” She struggled for words about heaven, resurrection, how it’s not the end yet, all the while still trying to figure out if she was allowed to be sad.
And I simply said, “It’s okay to still be sad. We’re not sad about the death, but about the lost life.”
Followers of Jesus should communicate that hope as they deal with death – it’s sad to lose time with a friend or loved one now, but the death itself isn’t the sad part.
Everything communicates. Christian tradition was long to be buried intact, and in many cases facing eastward (at least in Canada) to be facing Jerusalem. The ideas was to communicate you were ready for the second coming. Was this a law, that you must be buried this way or God can’t raise you? No way. It was simply a way to communicate hope in God. There are many ways to communicate this hope when you die – from the songs people sing, to scriptures read, to how they distribute their estate.
Challenge: Write out some funeral plans. What do you want to be communicated about you? About Jesus? About God?