This morning I had the privilege of attending the funeral service for the mother of a friend, who was a dear member of our church. Many came out in support of the family, which was heartwarming to see. But also heartwarming was the warm and sincere testimony of the family, that in the midst of their grief they praised God and shared the good news of salvation with those who were there. In particular, one testimony instructed the friends and family not merely to listen and think what a wonderful woman she was and life she had led, but what a wonderful God that she served. This woman modeled in many ways the Christian charity that we should all be demonstrating, and personally she was one of the first to be supportive as I made a commitment to full-time ministry. By the way that she lived, and not by what she said, she showed many of us what it looks like to really care for another. She attended to friends when they needed it most, such as at funeral services, rather than simply in the good times.
As I reflect on such a wonderful life, it causes me to wonder about my own life. I think that is one of the purposes of God in death, to remind those who are living of the preciousness and purpose of their lives. So much seems insignificant in light of this. Our worries, our jobs, papers, deadlines, arguments – they all fade away.
I had been meaning to post for a while now, but with very little meaningful to say. Much would have been the usual refocusing and effort to shed distractions. And now it seems all the more urgent to do so, not merely to be more efficient, but so as not to waste life:
Phil. 4:8 tells us to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. If this is the test, then no matter what some blogs or friends may say, most movies do not pass. I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels this way. It is understandable that the church looks so much like the world because it is a constant temptation, but it is fraudulent for pastors to be leading their people into such cultural filth.
I’ve heard that the Academy Awards have come and gone, and that No Country for Old Men did well, along with There Will Be Blood and Juno. Surprisingly I can say that I only heard of Juno among the movies that were nominated, and am all the better for it. There was a discussion recently on redemptive movies, or finding out what a movie has to say about life. As my mom says, there are some positive messages – the importance of family, the dangers of greed, etc. But here is the point, there is no real redemption without the gospel. In fact some of the movies with these themes are in competition with the gospel, as they try to establish a human happiness without Christ, and even portray ministers and Christianity negatively. Oh, how I wish God’s people would wake up to the desensitization that is taking place.
On that note, there has been a large boom of religious language in recent days. People like to talk about faith, grace, mercy, and love. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world full of it, as long as they can have faith in whatever they want, and the grace, mercy, and love always come their way. In fact, an article I read recently from Preach the Word, a tribute to Kent Hughes, spoke of the deprogramming that we need to go through, and that our people need to go through before they can understand what we’re saying. The grace that the world talks about isn’t the grace of God. Faith that the world esteems is not a biblical faith. We have to be careful as people continue to redefine these words as they see fit. It makes me just as sad as when I hear crocks like Benny Hinn saying “praise the Lord”.
Instead, we need to be giving something substantive. Inviting someone to church is not the same as sharing the gospel. We need to share the love of Christ, think of the love of Christ, remember our salvation, and take joy in the great work that God is doing in our lives and the world. In light of eternity, and in light of death, we need a generation of believers who will throw off the distractions that so easily entangle, not to make excuses and defend a permissible lifestyle, but to work out their salvation and let everyone see the work which Christ is doing in their lives.
The church is too much like the world. And it takes a death before we realize just how far we’ve strayed. Someone may argue it isn’t something external like watching a movie where God calls us to be different and I would agree, but I think the internal desire for the things of the world moreso than God’s expressed will is the greater tragedy which preceded and is evidenced by the actions. And wouldn’t it be true that spending all of our time on these trivialities prevents us from spending it on that which is truly meaningful, and from truly caring for others?
In the end, all I can do is pray. And not just for other desperate and needy souls, but my own. Lord Jesus, don’t let us forget you.