I like funerals. No, I love funerals. Yeah, I admit that's a bit morbid, but I think I have a good reason.
Certainly funerals are times of mourning, after all, a loved one has died and moved on. For some this is a time of rejoicing, as their loved one has gone on to their eternal reward. For others this is a time of uncertainty or even fear.
So on the one hand, funerals for believers are joyous occasions because they celebrate a person who has gone to a much better place.
I particularly like funerals, however, because they are incredible opportunities for the gospel to go forth. Let's face it: people are in an emotionally beat up state during funerals. They are looking for answers. More than that, they are looking for the truth. The truth about what life is about, why things happen to people, what happens when we die, and so on and so forth. I'm not saying that times of mourning are good for taking advantage of people emotionally, but it is an incredible opportunity to guide people toward truth and point them in the right direction.
The best part about funerals, in my opinion, is that the gospel is proclaimed to people who need to hear it. And at the funeral I attended this afternoon, this task was accomplished masterfully by my friend, boss, and pastor, Dave Wick. The message he delivered was quite simply the best, most clearly communicated, most engaging, and culturally relevant presentation of the gospel I think I've ever heard.
Lu Mendez (the deceased) was soundly saved saint of God, of Latino heritage, and many of her relatives were of the Roman Catholic persuasion. This is quite a bit different from the Baptist persuasion, to say the least. Wick, knowing that a lot of Lu's friends and family were Catholic, acknowledged this fact openly during his message. I have to confess that when he did so, I immediately became nervous. I had thoughts of people walking out or becoming angry during the message because the minister was badmouthing the Catholic faith. But Wick, knowing his audience perfectly, did not do that. Instead, he masterfully wove a story about nominal Christians of all persuasions. He explained that there are many Baptists who are not Christians, and there are many Catholics, who although they might be religious, are not Christians. He then went on to explain that Lu wasn't in heaven because she was a Baptist, but because she had trusted in Christ for salvation. He closed by saying something to the effect of, "There are a lot of Baptists here; there are a lot of Catholics here. But there aren't as many Christians as there are Baptists and Catholics." I'm certainly not doing the sermon justice here by describing it. It has to be heard, I imagine, to get the full effect. I'm going to try and figure out how to post the file on the site here.
All that to say that the service this afternoon was a magnificent testament to the glory of God in the gospel, and in the life of Lu Mendez. It was a privilege to be a part of it.