A Newspaper and a Funeral Home
In the small town where our local congregation meets there are three funeral homes. One of these is located about a block away from our house, and I walk by it on a nearly daily basis on my way to the gym. I have walked and driven past this funeral home dozens of times in the short while we have been working with the Chiefland congregation, unaware of the interesting lesson that the location of this funeral home had to teach me. One morning, on my way to the gym, the thought I would like to share with you stopped me in my tracks. You see, the funeral home in question is across the street from the office of our town’s newspaper.
The irony lies in this fact: our local newspaper distributes thousands of newspapers in our area, claiming to report the most important news to its readership, when the news they most desperately need to report pertains to the building across the street! “27And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Heb. 9:27-28) The true Good News, the message of the Gospel, has long been eliminated from nearly all secular newspapers in our country, keeping pace with the current trend to marginalize Christians in our nation. Newspapers today are filled with the current events of this world, advertisements, classifieds, sports news, comic strips and coupons galore. No mention of man’s current lost condition. No mention of the truth of the scriptures. The only “religious” message that is allowed (if at all) is so far removed from the truth of the scriptures that it actually serves to promote the idolatry of human opinion.
Brothers and sisters, this responsibility falls to Christians today. We despair over the fact that the world around us does not know the Gospel message, and rightly so. The question is, therefore, what are we going to do about it? Will we obey the repeated commands in scripture to “go into all the world, and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”? (Mk. 16:15) How many Christians can truthfully claim Paul’s ambition “…to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, 21but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand." (Rom. 15:20-21) The previous underlined section pertains to the Gentiles finally hearing the gospel message, but do we not have those in our world who have never seen Jesus? Are we not surrounded by those people who do not understand? Notice that Paul was not trying to preach the gospel “where Christ has already been named”! Paul sought to take the message to those people who had never heard it before, and it starts on the individual level. Find one person in your life that does not know Christ. Make contact with them in love and urgency and do what the local newspaper cannot do. Show them from the scriptures that there is judgment beyond the grave, and hope for those who actually obey the commands of God!
There is one section in nearly every local newspaper that recognizes those in the community that have recently passed on to their reward. The next time you encounter the obituary section, take a few moments and read what is written. Nearly all of them include the religious affiliation of the person, and in some cases are recognized for their great service to that religious group. While we do not claim to be the authority on who is written in the Book of Life (which God alone knows), the scriptures clearly state "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? 23And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Take a long, hard look at the religious affiliations of those people, and consider the haunting words of the Rich man of Luke 16: “27And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house- 28for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”