People can say pretty dumb things when someone close to you dies, this week, Kent examines one of those things and the idea behind it to help us get a clearer picture of how Christians should view death and how to help you learn to grieve.When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
Sermon Notes Slide Key:
- Sermons always start with “OPENING ILLUSTRATION:” and end with “CLOSING ILLUSTRATION:”
- All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted
- Bold = Slide text
- Bold Red = Scriptures (please reflect formatting of scripture on slides, i.e. – underlines, italics, etc.)
- “b” or “B” on a line by itself = Slide break/New slide
- Bold ALL CAPS WORDS = heading to be ignored
- [some text] = programming notes to be paid attention to
OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Over the past few years, we have all been dealing with grief at extraordinary rates. I don’t know very many people who have not experienced some kind of loss. I want to pre-warn you, today’s sermon is about death and grief and I want to give you permission to be sad and to let yourself grieve today as I talk. We will even keep the lights low in the audience so you don’t have to let anyone see you…
I was thinking about the first time I really experienced loss in a meaningful personal way. It was my Grandma Crockett. My grandad had been laying in bed next to her and realized that she was not responding right. I started rubbing her chest hard and calling out for her to wake up. She wouldn’t open her eyes but was breathing. He called the ambulance and the next thing I knew we were all in her room standing over her. She had an aneurysm in the brain – blood leaking out and causing swelling. My family didn’t quite know what to do, and since I was a pastor, I was put in a chair up near her to talk and pray with her. I’ve been in a lot of rooms when people have died, but this was the first one with someone I had loved deeply. Someone who had been in my life for as long as I’d been alive.
I remember that night as I watched her take her terrible last breaths and her eyes opened looking at me feeling how wretched the whole thing was. It was the first funeral I had to play any part in as a pastor. And it was terrible…
There is a period in your life – a window of sorts, where people will typically experience the grief of the loss of aging grandparents, and I was now in that window. It wouldn’t be too many years later that my Grandpa Wagner would pass away.
I was a little more aware at that moment. He had been in the hospital and been dying – as nurses and doctors tell you to go tell him goodbye. And then miraculously he came back from it. Literally, within a day they didn’t know what to do and sent him home because he seemed so strong. I’ll never forget eating a sandwich with him in those days after and telling him, “Grandpa, you’ve been such a good grandpa, thank you. I love you!” Literally, a handful of days after going home and me eating that sandwich with him, he was back in the hospital and within hours slipped from this life with the terrible breathes of death.
And this is where I remember people started talking… They probably did with my grandma, but not to me… But with my grandpa, people started saying things…People say dumb things all the time when people die – if you don’t know what to say by the way, just say, “I’m so sorry for your loss”
But one of the most insidious things people say that betray’s a bad idea about God is:
“God must have needed him more than we did”
This sermon series is called,
Bad things Good Christians Believe
because there are things you can believe as a Christian that will literally shape the way you see and experience God.
And if you don’t let those things conform to the reality of who God is, you will see a bad picture of God…
The Problem: the problem with this idea is that “God must have needed him more than we did.” Is it betrays the same thing that the question, “why is God doing this to me?”
The question assumes a God who does terrible things to those He claims to love.
That’s literally what you are saying to a person…“Kent, I know you loved your grandpa a lot, but God ripped him from you because He wanted and needed him more than you did?” What? Why does God “Need” him? Why would God cause me this pain because he flippantly needed my grandpa and obviously I didn’t?
Now I know, for some of you, this idea has maybe given you comfort. But I need you to see, that this idea actually paints God as a great goblin in the sky, precociously snatching people from life to death just cause He “wants to”
This isn’t what the scripture actually says about God…
James 1:16-18 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
God is good! God is the “good” giver…
The idea that God does evil in your life does not match up with the God of the bible.
Now, some of you may be saying, “Kent, have you ever read the Old Testament? God seems to always be coming against someone there”
It’s true, if God has made a covenant with you and you have agreed to hold up a certain end, and you don’t keep up your end of the bargain, then God may make good on the terms of the contract.
The covenant of the Old Testament was, “If you do… I will…”The covenant of the New Testament is “I did so you can…”
God has taken all the risk
His offer and His one commandment is literally Love
So, why do good Christians say such bad things? I think most people say things like this because we think if someone’s death was not purposed then death is as terrible as it seems.
Can I tell you something? Death is as terrible as it seems
Stop trying to escape the pain of it.
If you have ever grieved someone and lived in this pain, you need to hear right now, that
It’s ok for you to grieve the loss of a loved one.
ILLUSTRATION: I remember struggling with this after my grandpa died. I knew I was supposed to say, “he’s in a better place now”, but it’s not how I felt. I felt like I wanted him here now. God didn’t need him…
I remember thinking, how is it that death feels like the most unnatural thing if it’s natural for us all to die?
I was praying about this, and that’s when it hit me.
Death was not the creator’s intention.
Did you hear me? If you’ve ever felt like something went crazy wrong when a loved one died – you were right, death was not what humans were created for…
In Genesis, God told Adam and Eve they could eat from every tree in the Garden – even the tree of life, except for one tree. If they ate from that tree
“They would surely die”
ILLUSTRATION: ever told a kid not to touch something? If you have and that kid touched that thing – then you have experienced the sin of humankind.
In that moment, God spoke this curse over humans – the curse of death
Gen. 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Death entered the world as man turned their back on a relationship with God to try and control their own destiny…
Actually, I believe God gave death as a mercy. Because as humans embraced evil, God needed a way to limit the damage we could do with that evil.
Death was a means by which to ensure that evil men and women would not endure forever.
So, if you are God, what do you do? Your creation has turned their back on you and you have had to pull the nuclear option – keep them from being able to eat from the tree of life and live forever. God allows death to reign in humans – us being subject to the law of good and evil, constantly losing, never being good enough.
God waits through the pain of evil in this world, realizing that either He deals with evil ultimately and removes humans or He bears with it so He can bring the ultimate solution.
Rather than you paying for the gravity of your sin and your own rebellion to God. He paves the way for His son to come to the earth to pay for your sins and die for you, to buy you back from out beneath the weight of the law of good and evil and to let His sacrifice make a way for you to know God again.
God goes through death to set us free from the shackles of death.
Jesus knew this, that’s why when His buddy Lazarus had died and Lazarus’ sister Martha is talking to Jesus about it, He tells her this…
John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
It’s because, for those who love Jesus, physical death is terrible because we lose the loved one’s presence – but we know we have not lost the loved one.
A Christian never dies, they only translate to the next life.
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: After my dad died, I remember being so struck by the grief – there were days when I would be walking through Walmart and hear a song that reminded me of him that I would just start weeping. I was reading this book, called Room of Marvels where this author imagines going to heaven and talking to a bunch of people that he loved that had died. He is talking to them and asking them questions and he says to one guy, “when you died…” and the person stops him and says, “dead, I’m not dead, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been!”
That’s when it hit me. It’s ok to grieve, but grief does not have to be absent of joy.
Because when someone knew Jesus, joy is right there with you.
Today, some of you need to turn to Jesus to take away the sting of death… to find the resurrection and the life!