I have two funerals this week. One was for an 86 year-old, and the other was only sixty-six. (There was a time when I thought 66 was old. Not so much anymore.) Funerals are an interesting experience. Regardless of age or circumstance, all of the literally hundreds of funerals I have done in over twenty-three years of pastoral ministry have one thing in common. We all have a tendency to extol the virtues of our deceased loved one beyond the bounds of reality. It’s kind of funny, really. After someone dies, if you talk to family and friends, they will all tell you that their loved one was Mother Teresa or MLK Jr. I have yet to do a funeral service for one “normal, average, everyday person.” They were all saints!
The two people I will bury this week were good women. There is plenty of evidence to support that, but, neither of them was a “saint.” They would be the first to tell you that. None of us are either. The Bible says, “Everyone has sinned. We all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). I have. You have. These women had, because they were human like you and me. Besides, how “good” they were had no bearing on what was next for them. Life is made up of decisions, choices. Just like us, many of their choices were good ones. Others not so much. “We all fall short.” However, there is one decision both of these women made which mattered more than any other. They chose to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is truly the most important decision they ever made. It is the most important decision any of us can ever make. Why? Because, Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” That means, regardless of what the world says, all faiths do not lead to salvation. There are not multiple paths to heaven. “No one can come to the Father except through me,” Jesus said, and that is the decision we all have to make – whether or not to choose Jesus. Both of these ladies chose. They understood the idea of Jesus loving them (and you and me) more than life itself. That Jesus went to the cross, to secure forgiveness for our sins – not His own – He didn’t have any. They understood that, “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and they made a choice to believe in Him. It is only because of their choice that we can have absolute certainty they are with God at this very moment. Not because of all the wonderful things they may have done, or the fact that they were such good people, but because of the one wonderful thing that Jesus did, and who He was.
Have you made that choice yet? Pray about it. Ask yourself, “What is next for me?” If you have questions, that’s okay. Ask. There are pastors everywhere who are more than willing to answer questions. We love to do that, but please understand, your “goodness,” my “goodness,” will not suffice. It’s not about how good we are. God’s standard is perfection. That’s why we all fall short. Please think about it. Such a decision will make all the difference for you too, one day.
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