For those who are interested in the life after this one, there is no doubt some curiosity about where we are going and how to get there.
The followers of Christ place their faith in his promises and believe he has the power to save and secure a place in heaven for them. Others who prefer to live their own way are somewhat more skeptical and independent in their thinking.
As a minister, I spend most of my time thinking, talking or writing about our spiritual life, and most of the time the conversation will include questions about our progress according to God's perspective. On one hand, the Bible is a simple instruction manual teaching us how to live the Christian life, and on the other hand, it's perceived as a complicated and mysterious collection of messages that most of us cannot understand.
This is why it's crucial to pray and invest our time asking him for the heavenly interpretation of what he is trying to say. Knowing God personally and obtaining his wisdom is not easy. It requires diligence and perseverance and is much like searching for buried treasure.
I probably attend more funerals than the average person because of how often I officiate them. When families are grieving, it's very difficult to find words that comfort, and I've learned that most of the time silence is golden. We do not like funerals or cemeteries because they remind us of the end of life. Especially for those who are not ready to face God, this explains why they choose to avoid them. Funerals are an occasion where we are not only paying our respect for the one who has passed on, but many also sense anxiety as they are reminded of their own fate.
I believe it's good to discuss this because we should not deny that death is a part of living. In fact, a funeral is a perfect opportunity where God can clearly speak to someone's heart and have their attention long enough to introduce himself. Yes, we are given a choice to follow Christ, but just because we are convicted by our need to surrender our life to him does not mean we will go through with it. He will never force anyone to love him.
When I'm at a funeral, I've noticed there is always someone declaring the deceased as now living in the glories that are beyond the imagination. For the Christian, this is a wonderful truth, but being an heir unto salvation is more than being a hard worker and having an easygoing personality.
Evidently to the masses, these attributes, whether they were a Christian or not, allows everyone a guaranteed passage to the eternal joys of walking on the streets of gold. I'm not trying to sound negative, but this idea is confusing because I cannot find the biblical confirmation. Of course, we cannot know what is in someone's heart or judge their intentions, but as followers and messengers of God's Word, we know that God does require everyone to be accountable to the gospel. If society teaches there is no responsibility or commitment to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, this sends a dangerous message of false security to those who still have a chance to be redeemed.
There are many people today who are convinced that everyone is going to heaven, and if funerals are being used as an indicator, then it does seem so. However, from God's view, we are told that it's all about the spiritual association with who we loved and considered our Lord while we were alive.
Inviting Christ into our heart and allowing him to be the Master of our life is our response to receiving his atonement. Knowing God is the purpose and meaning of everything. Salvation is not based on us being a decent person but rather on his grace, and no amount of good deeds could ever be a substitute for being born again.
There is no need to dread a funeral or a cemetery because those who are in covenant with Jesus Christ are celebrating their victorious release into a sin-free realm where they will live in peace with God forever. The ultimate concern and consideration is to make sure we are prepared to meet him.
William F. Holland Jr. is a minister and chaplain based in Nicholasville, Kentucky. To receive the free CD "Keeper of My Soul," with Scriptures related to healing, peace, faith and encouragement, visit billyhollandministries.com.