Monday, February 12, 2018
To Fellow Sinners, Saved by Grace
My Dearest Family,
We've lost some well-known Christians in the last couple of months, and these losses have left me thinking about not just death, but also about legacy. I've been thinking about what I hope to leave behind someday, specifically what I hope people will say once I'm gone. The revisionist veneration of one (denominationally prominent) Christian has left me very sad and frustrated. As I've seen this fallen human turned into a blameless saint, I've decided to pen some requests for my own funeral some day.
First and foremost: please don't take my sin out of the picture of God's grace.
I beg you: don't reduce me to a caricature of a "good Christian," wiping my sins from earthly record. Yes, God has indeed removed them from me as far as the east from the west (Psa 103:12); I am draped in Christ's righteousness and thus able to stand in his presence. Yet temporal effects remain until the day he returns and makes all things right; and my standing as co-heir with Christ does not erase my time as a slave to sin. And no, of course we don't sin as though we mortals could make grace abound more (Rom 6:1). Ου μη: May it never, ever be!
But those ways in which I've sinned are an important part of the gospel story in my life.
Please do talk about my temper (both before and after I received saving grace). Don't leave out stories of how the "old man" clung to me, even as the Holy Spirit brought change and growth, little by little. Talk about my arrogance, my struggles with pride; then talk about the ways in which Jesus' blood paid the penalty for those sins. Then, and only then, talk about the ways I loved, how God supplied all that I needed to do the good work to which he called me.
Please don't be afraid to share about the ways in which my theology was flawed. Last I checked, ain't nobody Jesus, but Jesus: of course I had some flaws in my theology, this earthly side of heaven. To presume otherwise is absurd; and more than mere bad theology: it's heresy. To preach such nonsense in my passing is slander against me; and worse yet, it's a slander to the gospel itself.
The worst type of heresy is to presume that we none of us have any.
So please, dear ones--preach the gospel at my funeral in its entirety. I must decrease and Christ must increase (Jn 3:30), a daily struggle for us all. Please don't take away from the progress the "new man" made by building me back up into something I wasn't. The gospel plus something is no gospel at all (Gal 1:7), so don't let modern-day Judaizers speak lies at my funeral. Let them in--by all means--I want them to hear the gospel proclaimed. But don't let them (and don't any of you dare be them) spread poisonous half-truths, claiming that my salvation came from my own fleshly works, my own foolish knowledge, or my own feeble faith. My salvation comes from the Lord.
Tell my true testimony--of the many times I sinned by my own volition, but then repented by the Holy Spirit's guidance and received forgiveness by the Lord's mercy--grace upon grace. Tell of how I changed over the years to look more like Jesus, but also to realize just how far from Jesus' holiness I was. Don't rewrite my story, painting me as a larger-than-life, holier-than-thou saint. Please tell God's story--of which I had the honor of being a small part--for the sake of the Kingdom.
Tell the truth in love (Eph 4:15), leaving out neither the enormity of my sin, nor the infinite grace which redeemed me.
In lieu of flowers, I remain,
A fellow sinner, saved by grace.