As I was reading this article "Singing about Death", and going through the home going of my mother-in-law…I was struck by several things:
1. We avoid conversations about death.
This is interesting considering that in Gen 2 and 3 God clearly warned Adam that if he ate of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil he would die. Well he ate and in Gen 3 the death sentence was pronounced upon Adam and the whole human race. Now, perhaps this is why we don’t like to talk about death, it points out that we are sinners and sin has consequences. The cold hard facts of death is that it is final, and whenever death touches us, it reminds us that our life is just a vapor.
BUT, as Christians death is not the final stop. As ones who believe in the Bible as the Word of God we are reminded that death simply exposes us to our true final destination, heaven or hell. Friends let me suggest that this why we need to talk about death, because there is a final abode for everyone, and it is not the ‘grave”.
Paul to the the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Let this sink in as Christians talking about death is healthy for the following reasons;
- It gives us hope about our future
- It reminds us we will be reunited with loved ones who knew the Lord
- It reminds us that Christ died, was buried, but he also ROSE AGAIN (hint-this just isn’t an Easter conversation)
- It gives us an opportunity to share the Gospel
2. Too often there’s an unhealthy view, everyone and (everything) is going to heaven.
When we talk biblically about death it gives us an opportunity to share the gospel. During the memorial service for my mother-in-law I tried very heard to share that the reason we have hope in seeing “x” family members again is because they had repented of their sin, turned to Christ alone for salvation and then lived their lives for Him. Yes, I left some family members out of the conversation because I either had knowledge of their rejection of Christ, or there was simply not proof that they had accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ (in the end God is the final judge). My point was not to offend, but to use a very sensitive moment to allow the Holy Spirit to work in hearts.
Let me also state times of death and yes hymns about or containing references to death is a good time to share with our children; about the realities of death, THE way to overcome the sting of death, and give them hope about death. Our kids need BIBLICAL answers let’s help them learn by giving them the answers they so desperately desire. Perhaps a reason we don’t like this is because it’s not our children who are struggling with death, but us. We’re the ones struggling with our own immortality and perhaps we have become so dependent on “X” that their death a new faith walk that MUST trust God as never before. In times like these we need to reminded of “…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)
3. As the article suggest, we avoid songs and or the stanzas about death.
Why? Well let me quote Aaron Blumer “Somehow, part of the uniquely-Christian joy of life lies in calmly accepting the immanence of death—along with thinking rightly about death in many other ways. But we can’t think rightly or feel rightly about death if we avoid looking at it squarely. It needs our attention even in our worship, even in our songs.”
So the next time we are tempted to either avoid a hymn or discussion about death, let’s look death squarely in the eye and remind ourselves “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16, ESV)