The Christian Response To Death
Believers in Christ are not lost
Death causes grief, sorrow, and other varied emotions, but Christians have a hope that non believers do not. The Bible, however, gives believers in Christ an assurance of what to expect in the afterlife. This is why Christians should not utilize the terminology of the secular world. When people die in the hospital, medical professionals often say they "lost" the patient. I had a pastor who told the congregation that an item is only lost if you do not know where it is. He said that when we know someone died in Christ we should not say we lost them, because we know they are with the Lord.
If you are a firm believer in the resurrection of Christ and your deceased family or friends were as well, you should never refer to them as lost. Your faith in His word th has assured you of where they are residing. While we miss people who pass away, our trust in Jesus should give us comfort to accept what the Lord has allowed. Eulogists in many Christian churches often close the home going service by saying, "Submitting to the will of Almighty God." If you are truly submitted to His will you will not use the cliche, "God does not make any mistakes." Neither will you be wishing for the dead to could come back to life. When you do so you are saying that you do not accept His will, believe He made a mistake and want to change it.
We have hope for a bright future
The Apostle Paul said in I Thessalonians 4:13 (King James Bible:)
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope". We miss those who pass away and sometimes it can be overwhelming. I attended a funeral where a preacher began to sing Precious Lord take my hand. The intro began to play and the minister sang one and a half words when something unusual took place. He sang "Precious Lo.." He did not even complete the word, Lord when about twenty people jumped from their seats and ran out of the funeral home. I was seated in the back and had a view of the rear door. These men and women were outside pacing back and forth in the parking lot, some crying and others smoking cigarettes
Later, when things settled down and the casket top was shut for the final time another startling thing took place. The deceased woman's son stood up from his seat and began slowly making his way towards his other's casket. I had a feeling he was going to do something rash, and he did. He yanked the family reef from the top of the coffin and began trying to open it. This brought back a memory from my teenage years. I was singing in the choir for the funeral of an older lady in the community. One of her sister's walked up to the casket which was still open and reached down trying to pull the deceased out. She was calling her name over and over asking her to come back. The grieving sibling's wig fell off into the casket and yes we all laughed. In these two moments the family members were so overcome with sorrow they were not remembering the blessed hope we have in Christ because of the empty tomb.
The blessed hope
Titus 2:13 has another statement from the Apostle Paul, In the Christian Standard Bible it reads:
"While we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ". Christians who believe in the second coming of Christ can rejoice because every day brings us much closer to the moment we will see Him and our loved ones who have passed away who accepted his gift of eternal life. Yes, we hurt when someone we care about leaves this earth and sometimes question why. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us there is a time for everything, including death and crying. The key is that our promise from Christ should keep us from reacting as those who do not have the same hope.
My brother drowned at age 33 and it was a shock. It really hit me a few days later and as I was walking into my house I began screaming. I had assumed that because we accepted Christ as young children and went to church that we would have long lives and this stunned me. When my former pastor began teaching on being a mature believer and not responding as if there were no hope my view of death began to change. Years later when my mother was still visiting my brother's grave I asked her a question. I pointed out that she had nodded in agreement with the eulogist who quoted 2 Corinthians 5:8 which indicates that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I then asked if she believed my brother was in heaven, why was she talking to his dust in the ground? Her response was that the grave was the last place she saw him. Sadly many Christians sit in funerals saying they believe their loved one is in heaven, then go talk to them in the cemetery. Keeping the blessed hope in your heart will bring the comfort that people seek in the graveyard.
Walk by faith
Far too many Christians spend enormous amounts of time thinking about the dead, rather than enjoying the living. My Facebook news feed is filled with posts such as: "My mother died 20 years ago today, I wish she was still here." Social media can be a wonderful outlet but it also has its downside. Christians tend to follow every trend, whether it is biblical or not. Currently, a lot of people are wishing deceased loved ones a happy heavenly birthday when there is no such thing. Birth-dates begin with the moment someone is born on the earth stop at the moment of their death. Spiritual beings in heaven are not growing older, and are certainly not observing birthdays which are man-made and relegated to this planet. The Christian response to death should be to walk by faith in Christ and do good to those who are still in the land of the living. I was just thinking about how over 250 people from my husband's home church have died in the past 20 years, and how there are only about 12 people still living in the community I grew up in when once there were hundreds.
There is nothing wrong with reflecting, having moments of sorrow and even shedding a few tears. I often become sad thinking about all the friends and loved ones my husband and I have seen buried. The issue is when believers in Christ dwell on the deceased, wishing them back in the land of the living, spending tie at the grave site and or and talking to them through Facebook. The Christian response to death is to walk by faith, trusting in the blessed hope of Christ resurrection. When Mary was found at the tomb in Luke 24:5, the angel asked her, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" If you truly believe His word, you will not be talking to the dirt at the cemetery, You will instead, have faith in the crucifixion, the resurrection, and be looking forward to His glorious second coming.