I am rarely in attendance at a funeral where I am not conducting it. I was recently. Though I wanted to speak to the man who led the Christless love fest, circumstances disallowed it. So, here is a letter to him and every other impostor who seduces unbelievers with human kindness while disavowing themselves of the responsibility to preach Christ – though it is at the heart of their call:
That was a really nice Christian funeral service you just led Pastor. All except one thing – you forgot Christ. You had the cross on the wall in the building but it couldn’t be found in the sermon. You talked about a great man in the eulogy, but that was when you talked about what a great fisherman ol’ Earn used to be. There was no mention or allusion to Christ. Here is why there should have been:
1. Preach Christ at a funeral because many of the people attending will not otherwise gather anywhere in any place to hear someone preaching Christ and Him crucified. A bunch of non-churchgoers just gathered in a Church. Call me crazy. I don’t know much. But perhaps you should tell them about Jesus?
2. Preach Christ because only He is a source of lasting hope. While I appreciate your attempt at psychological healing techniques for grieving, the hole that you described in the heart that is created by loss won’t be adequately filled with memories of our loved one, poems, or banquets at the Moose Lodge. The only thing that can fill the hole in our heart that is exacerbated by present grief is the hope of Jesus Christ.
3. Preach Christ because He is so much better than all that other junk you got. Why rely on vague sentimentality's like quotes from the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” or “The Wizard of Oz” when you have Christ and Him crucified? It would be one thing had you tied those illustrations into scripture and proclaiming Christ. But you didn’t. You told me Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks could hook a brother up with some soft words to sooth my soul. Guess what? It didn’t. Why rely on anything less than the Gospel when it is both powerful and at our disposal? It's like choosing to turn a screw with a butter knife when you have a power drill in the next room. It’s like an astronaut trying to fly a kite to the moon.
4. Preach Christ because we can't control what others will say or do at a funeral. We can’t control what songs will be played or all the other details. At funerals we have this narrow little sliver of a window where a little glimpse of the light of Christ can possibly shine through a fissure of grief onto someone's soul. We can’t stop crazy cousin Eddy from breaking out in song three keys out of tune. We can’t stop the wife of a deceased liar and cheat insisting her husband was saved because one time she thinks she heard him singing “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. We can’t control the spiritual circus that a funeral can become. But we can preach Christ and Him crucified to a crowd gathered to hear us speak. Pastor, you and I should be doing this thing called preaching Christ's way on Sunday morning, Wednesday night, and yes, oh yes, at funerals.
5. Preach Christ at funerals because when we don’t, we waste the opportunity when the veneer of self-reliance is peeled back more palpably than perhaps at any other time in a person’s life. You cannot manufacture timing like a funeral. People are very likely to be thinking about their own limited humanity and what happens after they die. Why not preach to them?