July 27, 2022
The last several weeks have seen a lot of death for my family.
On June 18, Leslee lost her uncle. On July 2, I lost my brother and on July 8, we lost a friend.
In Ephesians, Paul talks about and prays for our lives to grow together in Christ through his love. In the midst of pain, suffering and death, this truth has shined with renewed opulence. My hope is that my comments here encourage you not only in your pursuit to know the love of our Savior, but more importantly, how our personal growth in that love impacts others—for good.
Last Saturday, Leslee and I attended the memorial service for our friend. He was 35 years old and left behind a young wife and precious little girl. His death was unexpected and tragic. No one enjoys memorial services or funerals. They are somber reminders that because of sin, death awaits all of us until Christ returns.
As Christians, we know that because of Jesus death has lost its sting. It’s not the end but a new, glorious beginning. (How anyone can face death without Jesus and the support of a vibrant church is a complete mystery to me.)
Our friend’s service was unique from any I had experienced before.
Many people—mostly young but some old—shared their memories of our friend. Clearly the most prominent thread that masterfully wove throughout the tearful testimonies was that he was a joyful person. I was amazed at how that theme surfaced over and over again. He was joyful because he knew Jesus Christ as his Lord, Savior, and friend. That sounds cliché but it isn’t. His joy was contagious to those around him. It was like he was a magnifying glass through which those around him could see the details of Jesus’ love more brilliantly.
That love built a tight bond with a community of people. I sat for two hours among 400-500 of these people (many of whom I knew) truly in awe of how the love of God binds each of us together in a community that while sometimes painful and difficult is absolutely irreplaceable and precious.
This realization is often hard to appreciate until we’re in moments like this when God has our riveted attention. These moments should strike us with awe and gratitude for what Jesus has done for us and his mercy in providing us with fellow believers to walk with us. We are sojourners in a dangerous world. But we are not alone. We have each other. Our relationships at church and home truly have eternal significance.
So, I move from one memorial service to the next sad but also exalting in the provision God has given us as fellow believers. As we each imbibe of the love of God as seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ for us, we can’t help but impact each other’s lives for good. Do we binge on God’s love? Do we love the Lord the way my friend did? Seeking to know that love has benefits that extend well beyond us to others and that remain long after we are gone