Too often we judge people not by the standards of their life, but by the standards of a Church seeking to maintain itself as an institution. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31; TNIV). The Church often suggests God is against us, and we preach a Gospel that limits the love of God. Yet where does the Bible teach such things? Yes, God made a covenant with one man: Abraham. Yes, God made a covenant with one nation: Israel. Yes, in Revelation we read that only 144,000 will be saved. However, Abraham was called that a nation would serve God; a nation was called that the nations would know God. 12 is a number of Biblical perfection: 12 Patriarchs, 12 Tribes, 12 Disciples. What does perfection x perfection = ? And multiply that answer by 1000. How wide and broad is the love of God?
This man embraced life, and over 130 people came to celebrate and give thanks for a life well lived, a life that had inspired them, a life they now miss.
We limit God's love. We decide who may or may not be worthy of God's love. And who may be worthy of eternal life. We consign many to the fires of hell, largely because they do not fit our definition of holiness, and because they choose to avoid the strictures of organised religion and regular penance in the pew. We seek to maintain an institution when we should be seeking to sustain a Faith.
I visited this man in hospital last week. His body was ravaged by pancreatic Cancer, and his lungs were filling with fluid. I found a man facing his disease bravely, largely ignoring it in his stubborn desire to live. He was at peace when I saw him, able to smile and laugh. At peace with himself and with God. We prayed together.
Death took him. And God welcomes him into all the fullness that is life beyond the grave.
Cheers, Tom. Greet the Saints for us.
"... I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39; TNIV)
20 July 2012
20 July 2012