By Jack Rooper
Sword of the Lord (3 February 1989)
Did you ever wonder what was going on in the mind of a minister just before he begins his message to a church full of bereaved relatives?
They have finally gotten John Doe in church. Yes, they have been trying in vain for a long time to get him to start attending church. Well, the day finally has come; he is in church today.
The sad part about his presence is that he is there against his will. He can’t see, hear or talk; in fact, he can’t do anything.. He’s dead! Man, what a shame he’s already dead. Why, if he had still been alive, the preacher could preach to him about Jesus and possibly get him to trust Christ as Savior. Now it’s too late for any preaching for him; he has closed his ears for the last time.
The minister is on the spot – “between a rock and a hard place.” He knows of nothing good to say about John Doe, and if he makes up something, God will not be pleased. If he doesn’t say a lot of nice things about him, the minister will look pretty badly in the eyes of the bereaved relatives.
So he has the big question- in his mind, “Am I going to please God or man? Am I going to preach this message like God would want me to, or am I going to try to make his wife, children and friends feel better? If I don’t say some pretty words, they may never ask me to preach any more of the family’s funerals.”
The minister thinks for a moment, but now it’s time to take the stand for the message. He makes up his mind, “I am going to please God and preach this message as I feel God would if he were here.”
Dear wife, children, family and friends of John Doe:
Today I am sure is a very sad occasion for each of you. You have lost a husband, father, or friend. No doubt he was a good provider, good to the children, even maybe a pretty good moral person, but I must say you have done wrong by bringing him here for his funeral service. I am sure if John Doe could come back to life, he would jump up out of that coffin, run down that aisle and out that door and hate every one of you for bringing him here today!
I never knew John Doe very well, but one thing I did know about him was that he never would attend church. Yes, this is one place he never did want to come, and I think you have done him an injustice to bring him here today. To do right by him you should have had his services conducted some place where he would have liked to have been, say down at the beer “joint” or at one of his other favorite places. Why, one of the best friends he had was the bartender. Yes, the bartender would know a lot more to say about John Doe than 1. Even his bar buddies could serve as pallbearers. I am sure John would have liked that. Maybe they could have christened his coffin with a bottle of whiskey as it was being lowered into the grave.
Yes, dear friends, I am sure you have brought John here against his will. He used to make jokes about the church.
He even said several of the members were hypocrites. According to God’s Word, his soul is now in Hell, and there is nothing we can say or do that will change that.
You may say that a preacher would never do a thing like that. That’s right; he may not, because most preachers try to please man rather than God. By bringing your John Doe to church for the pastor to preach his funeral, you have done it against his will and made a hypocrite out of the minister.
If you are a John Doe and don’t like to attend church while you are living, for the sake of the church and the minister, please tell your family not to drag your corpse to the church when you are dead.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 8, p. 237
April 20, 1989