I have recently written to a pastor in Nigeria about the death of Christians because they have had so many killed over there by extremists. I had pointed out a few things about the wrong attitudes Christians had to these events. Jesus said I did not have the full picture so He was going to give it to me. So here it is what He told me:
"A gunman walks into a church and kills a dozen people or a person sets off an explosion at a wedding kills many and injures even more people. There is much grief and sorrow and wailing and everyone think that it is so tragic.
At the funeral there is much grief expressed and the whole atmosphere is one of sadness and grief.
A Christian has died and gained everything they ever lived for so why are they are so upset and grieving and calling it a tragedy. They should be rejoicing because a brother or sister has gone home and is enjoying all the good God has in heaven for them.
They also ask: 'Why did God allow it to happen?' and question me and my purposes by doing this. They imply I do not know what I am doing. I have power of life and death and decide when you die. When you have completed my purposes for you I take you home. How I take you home is my prerogative. Why should I leave you in Satan's territory when you do not have to be there.
If you live it is because my purposes for you are not finished and it is best to stay there for the purposes of your salvation so these people had better find out why I did not take them. All this moaning and crying implies is you have no hope after death for you is no different to those who do not know Jesus.
Funerals should be joyous occasions showing Christians have hope after death because heaven is real and I am real. By behaving as non-Christians do you are implying the death of a Christian is no different to the death of a non-Christian.
If you do not praise God for what happens, that after death they go into heaven, it implies the gospel is incorrect and what Jesus said it is not true. You need to thank Jesus they are in heaven and you will go there one day to be with them and that death is really a release into a greater things and that what Jesus said and the hope gave us is true.
The early church embraced death. There is the case of about 200 people going to the governor telling him they were Christians and they should be killed. Apparently this was happening a lot so the governor wrote in Rome and asked what to do. Rome said to take a few kill them and send the rest away. The early Christians did this because they believed they would get to heaven and desired heaven so much that life was not worth living in comparison.
Perhaps if Christians desired heaven so much that nothing on earth was felt worthwhile in comparison they would show at funerals and in death this attitude and by this proclaim God and His Kingdom is real.
Paul said "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain".
Perhaps Christians need to examine the faith of those grieving and mourning over the death of the person. After all when man was created he was created to live in eternity and never die so that death was not a problem.
Christians that have this focus that death is only a doorway into greater things will rejoice at death and use earth for what it is meant to be, namely God's training ground for eternity and not the end of everything when you die, because death is only a doorway to what you have lived for and trained for.
So how you view death will determine how you live, your attitudes and purposes in your life as well as how you treat a funeral.