As a local church pastor one of my least favourite tasks is conducting funerals. There are strong emotions expressed ranging from sadness to anger. There are sometimes, depending on how death occurred, those pain-filled “Why?!” questions. Since I avoid pat answers like the plague, I don’t have easy responses. Then there’s the actual incontrovertible matter of death itself. If it’s a Christian funeral there is great hope and rejoicing. If it isn’t, there isn’t.
Having said that, I recently attended (not conducted) the funerals of two Christian men of strong faith. They both passed away “prematurely“ in their early 50s. I’ll share with you some realizations that went deeper into my heart as I partook in these services. I’ll suggest how these realizations might apply to us as believers who are still here. (Part 2 will follow next week.)
First, at Oscar’s funeral there were many church friends who gave touching, sometimes humorous, eulogies to him. The one that had the deepest impact on me, though, was a collection of several tributes from his coworkers delivered by one of his colleagues. I had only known Oscar in the church context. He was a fun loving, tranquilo Latino who loved God, loved his family and served diligently in church. What his friend at work shared mightily impressed me. Tribute after tribute spoke about him as always peaceful, positive, friendly, helpful, jovial and faithful to his family. Many spoke of instances when he had brought encouragement and hope to them by his lighthearted but wise advice. As I listened to these stirring accolades, I turned to my wife, “Oscar was a Pastor at his workplace!”
By the way that Oscar lived his life before his colleagues he fulfilled Matt 5:14-16 (NIV) – You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
This is how Oscar lived his life: as a shining light before others.
How does this apply to us?
For those of you who are believers who spend the vast majority of your time in the marketplace, I encourage you to follow Oscar’s example. Live your life of faith in the love, and under the anointing, of God so that those who watch you will become aware of the God that you serve. No need to be preach-y, just live your life imbued with the love, joy and peace of God and the Spirit will make sure you have opportunity to share your why. This is the kind of light that the world desperately needs.
Let Oscar’s example be an inspiration to us! It’s a delightful way to live.