Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of my sister-in-law and her then husband-to-be.
Weddings tend to be joyous and celebratory occasions when two individuals come together expecting to spend the rest of their lives loving and living for each other.
As a minister, I enjoy performing weddings – especially when I’ve had the opportunity to spend time helping them prepare, not only for the wedding, but for their marriage.
Funerals, on the other hand, I tend to find more challenging. This is in part due to me being an individual who wears my heart on my sleeve. Just as I celebrate with those that rejoice, my heart breaks when others are hurting.
Mourning, grieving and loss are not particularly things I look forward to or desire. But they are a part of life.
This is what makes the message of Christianity so powerful and hope filled. Though mourning and loss will come, Jesus offers us something infinitely more valuable and satisfying.
Yes, He promises to travel with us through the heartache, and yes, He promises to not leave us alone, handling more than we can bear. He also helps us to be content in the circumstances we find ourselves, as well as promises a new way of living to those that believe.
When we think of funerals and the associated mourning, it can be devastating because of the loss.
When we think of the death and mourning over the loss of Jesus when He died on the cross and was then sub sequentially buried in a grave – we can see the devastation in those that were close to Him.
But the mourning over Jesus was interrupted by a resurrection.
He did not stay dead.
And just as Jesus did not stay dead, those that follow Him cannot be dead. A dead Christian or a dead church is an oxymoron. Genuine followers can’t be dead.
We live in a community with many churches. Thousands of people attend them each week. These churches are called by God to share the possibility and hope of new life. This is an exciting prospect. People of all backgrounds who may be struggling, addicted, broken, empty, full of questions, etc., are offered fulfillment and solutions that can be found in Jesus alone.
Churches are not to be a gathering place for do-gooders or people looking to be better. They are places for transformation.
If we gather only to be better, we deny the power of the gospel of Jesus. Christ said that He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). He has a specific reason for establishing the church. It is to draw all people to Him. He loves us and wants to restore us from our emptiness to fulfillment in Him.
Like the woman caught in adultery (John 8), Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. He doesn’t hate or dismiss you. He aims to save, help and change us.
The Bible reminds us that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing to save ourselves. But He has made himself available. Read 1 John 1:9 to get a picture of what God offers to do for us.
Genuine Churches and Christians are those who have acknowledged their sin and guilt before God and have fully trusted in Jesus’ death and resurrection for forgiveness and new life.
To find out more, attend a church that lifts up Jesus and offers His hope. You will find life there.
Ken Banks has pastored at the Wesleyan Church in Truro for eight years. You can visit this church online at www.trurowesleyan.ca