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This Is for Keeps

I wrote this a few days before I was able to post it:

I am back in my wife’s hometown for the second time in three weeks. My wife is one of four daughters. Three weeks ago I was here with my wife for the funeral of her sister closest to her in age. Here we are now for the funeral of her oldest sister. Two entirely unexpected deaths, ages 38 and 54. Many thoughts and emotions arise in such a situation, but one that certainly comes to mind is the brevity and uncertainty of life- no man knows his time. This truth leads directly to another: the desperate importance of clear, faithful preaching of the gospel. Having death interrupt you so unexpectedly so often in such a short period of time reminds me that this is for keeps. The week in, week out teaching and preaching matters desperately. We all know that, but it is easy to lose sight of that fact, to lose intensity. If we love souls we must labor for the purity of the church and for the faithful proclamation of the Gospel. Who knows who is listening today who might not be here to listen tomorrow.

I will have the opportunity to preach at this funeral and my primary objective will be to preach the gospel. Though situations differ, I think we should seek to preach the gospel at every funeral. Of course a word of comfort is needed, but real comfort is anchored in the gospel. At these times people are confronted with eternity even if they typically hide from it. We must lay out the claims of the gospel and clearly call people to repent and believe.

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