Summary: All in Adam die; all in Christ are made alive.
Lunn’s Colonial Funeral Home
Wichita Falls, Texas
September 26, 2011
Witness to the Resurrection
Stanley Ray Kennedy
(September 3, 1922 – September 23, 2011)
THE KIND OF FAITH
THAT BRINGS LIFE
1 Corinthians 15:12-22 (NIV)
12 …If it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
I met Stan Kennedy at Presbyterian Manor. I conduct a weekly service in the day room at the Health Care Center, and, one day, I noticed a man sitting in a chair near the entrance. From what I could tell, he was rather tall and trim. One leg was crossed over another, and he was leaning back, with his arms resting on the arms of the chair. But there was nothing about him that suggested that he was withdrawn or even that he had come simply to rest. In fact, it was just the opposite. He was present, if you know what I mean. And what I mean is that he was fully engaged. He was there to worship. He was there to attend to God’s Word. And he honored me by giving me his full attention. He did this week after week.
On that first day, he introduced himself. ‘Stan Kennedy,’ he said. And he began to tell me a little about himself. He had taught Sunday School. I learned later that he had taught one class for thirty years. He had written an article or two for the paper. Did I want to read one of them? ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I would like that.’ So, the next week, he brought me a clipping.
I had no idea at the time that I was meeting one of the most creative, gifted, versatile men I had ever known. I would learn that only later – and not, of course, from Stan. But what I did learn from him – although he never said a word about it; he didn’t have to – is that he was a seasoned and mature disciple of Jesus Christ.
Some people know their Bible – and Stan certainly knew his – but he knew more than what was in it. He knew its author – personally, intimately. And, therefore, it had power in his life.
He saw the world and everything in it through the lens of Scripture. He knew why it was written and what it could accomplish. ‘The word of God is living and active,’ the Bible says. ‘Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Heb. 4:12). What I could see in Stan is that here was a man who often submitted himself to the judgment of Scripture. And the thing about men like that is: They are humbled by their sin. They know their need of salvation. They cast themselves at the feet of Jesus. And, instead of being condemned, they receive mercy.
Jesus once said, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’ (Matt. 5:7). And we could easily turn that around without doing any violence whatsoever to the Scriptures: ‘Blessed are those who are shown mercy, for they are the merciful.’ One is proportionate to the other; it’s a kind of biblical ratio. ‘He who has been forgiven little loves little,’ Jesus said (Luke 7:47). But those who are forgiven much love much.
Think about it. No one who has ever had the burden of his own sin lifted from him by the grace of God will be less than gracious with the sins of others. Karen Kramer, one of Stan’s daughters, shared with me a poem by Michelle Labbe, entitled ‘When I Say I’m a Christian.’ It has a line in that reads, ‘When I say…“I’m a Christian,” I do not wish to judge. I have no authority. I only know I’m loved.’