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Monday, July 20, 2009

What's Important at the End of the Day?

My father-in-law passed away this past Wednesday. I was asked to say some things at his funeral. I thanked the people who came. It was a hot Saturday afternoon in Texas. They had stopped what they were doing, put on clothes that they did not normally wear on a Saturday and came to sit in a funeral home while preachers talked. That's saying a whole lot about these people.

I told them that when it comes to times like this there are only three things that matter: friends, family and faith. Each of these are intertwined.

The way we treat others is a direct indication of our faith. God loves people with a love that we cannot imagine. We indicate that we don't have much of a relationship with God if we don't love people. The person who has only a few people at their funeral has either outlived all of their friends and family or hasn't had much faith.

This was so important that Jesus had to define who a neighbor was. He told them that your neighbor was anyone who was in need. He told them that they needed to give cups of water and visit those in prison. He told them that they had to take care of the one who was hurt and left by the side of the road.

Their definition of a friend was anyone who did something for you. He said that you treat people the way you want to be treated. Their system was a whole lot neater. Jesus made things messy.

The presence of friends means that you have been a friend. They don't have to come to your funeral. They do so because you are their friend.

Family attends funerals anyway. Sometimes they do so because it is expected. They may be afraid that the deceased's friends will talk about them if they don't come. They come reluctantly if this is the case. Of course, this isn't the relationship you want to have with your family.

The New Testament indicates that a person who won't take care of his family is worse than a heathen. Even those who do not know Christ take care of their family. Family requires time. This time comes from things you would rather do to help the family. It comes from a different love than you have for friends. Somehow we are connected differently as a family. Love should come more naturally. The person who rejects his family is also rejecting the God-created love placed in our heart for our families. The attitude of your family toward you is a great indicator of your faith.

Faith is what it comes down to overall. If you have no faith, you have no hope. If you have no faith, you have a terrible eternity. If you have no faith, you have no foundation for your life. If you have no faith, you are damned.

At the end of the day it all comes down to friends, family and faith.

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