I am sure there are a good number of reasons to attend a funeral,
but I believe these may be
the five best reasons,
. . . . .
#1) People “Never” Forget It: There are acts of kindness and helpful deeds that people will long remember, but in times of pain and distress, such acts of kindness are just not forgotten.
I was reminded of that principle when my son shared how grateful a friend was because of his response in a time of a painfully personal and family juncture.
Painful experiences are the very times when we need others just to be there. We all know that. Who hasn’t heard someone repeat something like this. . . .
“There isn’t anything you can say,
but just being there speaks.”
Being there during . . .
- times of loss,
- painful family experiences,
- deep hurt,
- times of relentless sorrow and regrets,
- foreboding health information, or
- passing — at the bedside of others who are processing the prospects of death (theirs or loved ones)
. . . . . MATTERS to people and leaves a lasting impression!
. . . . .. . . .
#2) It Is Loving: Jesus purposefully delayed His coming to the funeral of Lazarus. Interestingly, it is repeatedly stated that He loved. He loved Lazarus, and he loved Mary, and He loved Martha. In fact, those around Him knew and even stated how much He loved Lazarus as “He Wept.” The point being made is that whatever the reason [and we are told the reason] for His delay, it was not a lack of love!
How sad that “selfishness” even creeps into our lives when people have died. Someone who was loved by and important to others, or us, has died! Isn’t that reason enough to attend the funeral?
But our own schedules and time can trump selflessness! We can excuse our way out and give reasons why we could not make it. The truth is that we pretty much do what we want to do, if we want to do it! — at least in America.
Several pastors have said to me over the years that they are disappointed that God’s people are far too sporadic and careless when it comes to attending funerals. I have often responded . . . . “They have been sitting under your teaching!“
Selfishness is too often the cause for not being there when we can and when we should! When we can’t figure out how to be there, it is because we don’t want to figure it out! We pretty well do what we want to do when we want to do it bad enough!
. . . . .
#3) It Shines A Light On The Name Of Christ: Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify the Father! That is what we teach and believe.
There is a lot of “Twisted Theology” that is created and used to excuse people and pastors out of doing what is right. Who cares at what church the funeral is?! Not attending doesn’t strengthen the Gospel! Attending a funeral doesn’t mean that you agree with this-or-that theology. In fact, the lost world will attend a funeral even at your Bible-believing church.
At times, it is just hypocrisy to talk about the truth of the Gospel, the need of a Saviour, the hope of the believer, and our love of others, and then not be present at a funeral when we can be and should be. It dims and darkens our testimony and the name of Christ.
. . . . .
#4) It Is A Wonderful Teaching Moment: As Solomon states in Ecclesiastes — Better is the house mourning than the house of banquet, for there men take stock of life and living! The living will lay it to heart — even if the living are believers!
Attending funerals and churches that are other than one’s own is profitable and illuminative. It not only helps God’s people learn about other religions, but should clarify and strengthen what we teach and believe about life after death.
It is also a great opportunity to teach your children that it doesn’t matter how well you know/knew them, they matter — whether they be well-known or unknown to many, a remembered or forgotten believer, or someone in our proximate world (“Who is our neighbor?” — Those proximate to us on the road, as we live life ) and who was loved by others!
. . . . .
#5) It Is Good For Godly Fellowship: It is good for God’s people to gather together and mourn and celebrate. There will be those who we haven’t seen for years. Some who have since changed churches will be there. Members of this-or-that family that we haven’t had the opportunity to connect with will be present. Hopefully, we will all be reminded about the Gospel, and the eternal hope of God’s people at death.
If there are stresses and strains among God’s people, in or outside of the local church, funerals have a way of relieving some of that tension. Differences are less significant when thinking about how life will end for all of us one day (if our Lord has not yet returned for His people). If not, let me restate — “They have been sitting under your teaching!”
It is a great time for some kind words, caring conversations, and loving interaction within the community we call “the church.” A lot of good can be accomplished in such situations. To miss this opportunity to show the love of God to God’s people within and without is to fail at understanding ministry!
. . . . .