Funerals are not what they used to be. Have you noticed that most services are called Celebrations of Life? We love to gloss over death. The denial continues. The lie ‘Ye shall not surely die’ extends beyond the grave. Not only has society declared death doesn’t exist, but more so it denies judgment. God’s righteous judgment.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. — Hebrews 9:27
As a former Content Screener for Legacy.com, I’ve read all of the wacky imaginations of the afterlife. I zipped through thousands of obituaries and their guest book entries. What was most depressing about this oddball job was not repeatedly reading about death, but reading over and over how many souls were most likely lost. How many people have no true understanding of life after death. How many people depend on their own goodness, their own works for entry into eternal bliss. How many people die without Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
He is gone but he’s in a better place.
Joe is fishing in heaven!
His memory lives on.
She’ll be enjoying all her favorite things in heaven.
Writing your own obit seems to be the new craze. Here’s my favorite:
Self-written obits that went viral were the humorous in-your-face ‘I did it my way’ type. Emily Phillips self written obituary declares:
“So in the end, remember…do your best, follow your arrow, and make something amazing out of your life. Oh, and never stop smiling.
“If you want to, you can look for me in the evening sunset or with the earliest spring daffodils or amongst the flitting and fluttering butterflies. You know I’ll be there in one form or another.”
Emily seemed to have some kind of reincarnation idea about the afterlife. While highly entertaining, well written and touching, these obits are the saddest of the bunch. The confidence these souls have that they indeed are good people and the apparent denial of sin and need for a Savior is disheartening.Their fearlessness while facing death may be admirable, but it’s the fear of God that’s needed. I shudder to think what unbelievers experience at the moment of death. Rude awakening?
In my last post, I explained how our quest for the fountain of youth and beauty drives our world. The death-defying transhumanistic agenda is no longer science fiction, it is real. It’s an attempt to overrule God’s decree. Death is everyone’s worst enemy, yet society continues to sugar-coat it. For born again believers, Jesus Christ conquered death with His atoning death and resurrection. Still, death remains as a consequence of the fall of man; a consequence of sin. We don’t escape death, but believers have the assurance that we will be raised to life just as Jesus was. I’m not going into any heavy theology here, but I want to conclude our discussion on Identity Crisis with these final thoughts on how we identify ourselves after the grave.
Death. The end. An appropriate way to end this series on Identity Crisis.
What will you be remembered for? What do you want people to remember you for? What is your legacy?
It’s not your job title. It’s not your achievements. It’s not your stuff. It’s not your wealth. It’s not how many friends loved you. It’s not your big loving family.
In the end, your only treasure is what you’ve laid up in heaven, if you have at all.
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Matt.6:20,21 KJV
So who are you?
If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, your identity is in Him.
What are you to do?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. – 1 Cor. 6:20
We’re here for His glory, not our own. You should live a servant’s life in gratitude for what God did for you in Christ. Love God. Love one another. Love your husband, your wife. Love your brethren. Serve in humility.
And then you die.
Let your funeral be a funeral. Loved ones will weep. Stop the shrines on tabletops. Stop elevating every dead person to sainthood (even if they were saints). We have this annoying habit of making idols of everything. Sure, the blessings of life are wonderful gifts from God. But death is not part of life. Death is part of the curse. But remember this:
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.– Psalm 116:5 KJV
Believers may weep at the loss of a loved one, but they also rejoice when assured that loved one was a born again believer. Life is but a vapor. If you truly love your loved ones, speak the truth in love. You must not let them face their inevitable death/judgment as if it will never happen.
I have not made a will yet. No, I’m not in denial. I know where I’m going. I just don’t know what to do with my stuff yet. We should be good stewards of our stuff and leave something for our children. And then there’s the ridiculousness of deciding whether I want the plug pulled, the feeding tube in, or…whatever else we hire lawyers for these days. It is really hard to even discern how to let God be God and have His way in these circumstances. But while pondering how to divvy up our goods, we should think about the legacy we leave to our children. Pastor Scott T. Brown is right when he says:
the only legacy we should leave is the legacy of Jesus Christ. – Scott T. Brown
And the only life to celebrate is the life of Christ, who lived the perfect sinless life in our place. It’s all about Him, not us and our miserable lives. We should continually thank Him for the grace He gives us in our walk with Him. Thankfully, we have life in Him when we believe:
but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. — John 20:31
Now that’s something to celebrate!
Let’s conclude by going back to the beginning question that started this long and arduous Identity Crisis! blog series. In the introductory post I asked “Who do you think you are?”
Pastor Scott Brown, quoted above, gives an answer to that question in this sermon. Hear about Shebna, who exalted himself and wrote his own epitaph, much like those obits gone viral today. Brown also discusses some of what we covered in this blog series, like headship, manly men, etc. Please listen here: What Are You Doing And Who Do You Think You Are?
I pray that this very long Identity Crisis! series was a blessing to you and your family. I am so glad this is the final post.