Saturday, October 23, 2004I'll update the street ministry notes tomorrow...
Ok...first off, my answer to Aunt Vanessa would be a tactful, but firm "no". After that answer, the question that would most likely arise is:
And the answer to that question is two-fold.
#1 - About Psalm 23. There is a reason why this passage is so often uttered at funeral services. It is a beautiful, wonderful description of the rest God's people enjoy when their time on Earth is done.
And there is the problem for poor Uncle Mike; he wasn't a believer. As far as I'm concerned, Samantha is absolutely right when she says: "If the uncle was not a Christian, you can't use that psalm to depict his life or walk with the Lord." The fact of the matter is, Uncle Mike is most likely (we can never know for sure) suffering in Hades for his ungodly life, and not enjoying the rest depicted in Psalm 23.
To read Psalm 23 at a funeral service of an unbeliever is an exercise in deception. As believers, we should be honest (even when it is hard), not deceptive.
#2 - Again, Samantha touched on a problem: the Roman Catholic church. Brothers and sisters in the Lord, read these passages:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Corinthians 2: 14-16)
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." (1 John 5:21)
Be honest with God's Word friends. Look at those passages again and ask yourself: "Should I, as a born-again believer, attend a religious service which is rooted in idolatry?" Would it had been okay for a child of God in the Old Testament times to attend a funeral service at a temple of Baal? Perish the thought! So why would it be okay to go to an Roman Catholic church? Because they call their idols "Jesus" and "Mary"?
So to summarize my answer: "No, Aunt Vanessa, I can't do what you ask because I don't believe Uncle Mike was born-again, and I don't want to sin in idolatry by participating in a Romanist funeral service."
Now I can hear some of your rumblings over cyberspace: "But that's so harsh! You'll lose your family with an attitude like that!" To that, I say: "Nonsense!" Let me relay a story:
Last year, my pastor's mother-in-law died with absolutely no evidence of salvation. The day after her passing, my pastor gets a call from his brother-in-law, and in the midst of the conversation (which was quite courteous), the brother-in-law says:
"Well...she's in a better place now"
My pastor, without flinching, answers:
"No...no...I don't think so. Your father was born-again, his life clearly showed that, but I can't say the same about your mom."
Now, I'll be honest with you...I was in the room when this call came in....and my jaw dropped when he said that. But an amazing thing happened; the brother-in-law, though unsaved, basically agreed with my pastor's assessment. How could this happen? Easy, my pastor didn't compromise in these matters in the past. His family knew that his way was the Bible way plus nothing. They knew he wouldn't lie and they knew he wouldn't keep silent over their self-deception (as in making themselves believe the mother-in-law was at peace).
Don't get me wrong though. The first few times a Christian takes such a stand, it doesn't go over too well, but lays the foundation of dealings with the unsaved family. Future stands are anticipated and things usually go much smoother. A Christian has to be wise about how he/she deals with his/her family, he/she can't always just go along (consider: Matthew 12: 46-50, Luke 9: 59-62, Luke 14: 26)
Take Care and God bless,