"Like those who have no hope"
Have you ever been to a non-believer's funeral? It's the most depressing thing I have ever seen in my life. A roomful of people, crying their eyes out, mourning the loss of a dearly loved friend and family member. Several standing up to recount their favorite memories of the deceased, and then going on to say something like, "I know that *deceased person* will go on to live forever in our hearts..." "We can carry *deceased person* with us always..."
"*Deceased person*, where-ever you are, we love you and miss you."
Where-ever you are? But, don't you know?
No. They didn't. Because they have no hope.
I don't know if I could handle living a life where when people close to me die, I am convinced I'll never see them again. This is what Paul was talking about when he said that Christians "do not mourn like those who have no hope." We have a hope of seeing our redeemed brothers and sisters again, and that hope makes every funeral a celebration.
I've been thinking a lot since that service about my own funeral, how I want the atmosphere and attitude of it to be. I've decided I'm going to take a few hours and write up a set of instructions for it, in case it happens suddenly. I may even make up a mix tape of music to play after the actual service, at the...reception, whatever it's called.
No, I know it sounds morbid, but it's really not. Not for those of us who have hope.
What I know for sure is that I want my funeral to be a party. An actual party. A barbecue, more specifically. I want them to have the service at the church/cemetary, put me in the ground, then go back to the house of whoever's officiating (parents, spouse, children, whatever) and I want them to have a big shindig in my honor. Like a wake, but without me being physically present. I want loud music, barbecue, dancing. I want them to celebrate for me, because I will be celebrating for them, knowing that I will see them again.
When you are a believer in Christ, you cannot see the death of His children as anything but victory. Victory over the grasp of sin and death. The ultimate comeback.
But, I guess if you don't have this attitude, then the death of a parent or spouse is an overwhelming loss. Because to live without Christ is to live without hope. And to live without hope is to live under the shadow of death's threatening grasp, hiding like scared rabbits from the wolf who is destined to snatch you up and end you.