This year has been an interesting one for me around the subject of death. Although I’m not yet a pastor, I’ve assisted on memorial service, officiated three more and attended one more. Five memorial services inside of a year is certainly the most I’ve ever been involved with before. This emphasis on life and death and eternity has got my mind thinking more and more about the question of what happens next.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the public service of Tuck Gionet. Now this service was held at school and not officiated by a pastor, so there was almost no emphasis on anything of faith. I make no assumptions of the faith of Tuck one way or another since I only knew him as my son’s coach last year. Yesterday’s service gave no indication one way or another if he believed in the gospel message, but one thing was abundantly clear… whether he believed the message or not, he certainly lived it out.
If there was an ability to serve people so much, to impact peoples lives in such a way, as to tip the scales in your favor, Tuck certainly did. For over three decades, he loved on students in a way that few teachers ever come close. He was intense and almost intimidating to students, but year after year for two generations, students were impacted more by Tuck than any other teacher, and perhaps any other person in their life. His was a life well lived and countless people in our community are better for having known him.
However, if it were possible to do enough to earn a place in Heaven, then Christ’s death and resurrection were not necessary. You see, there is no assurance in everlasting life in Heaven without acceptance of the price paid for that forgiveness of sins. It’s not about what we do in our lives… it’s about what Christ has done on the cross.
When he was nailed to that cross, our sins (past, present and future) were nailed to that cross with him. When He died, our sins dies with him. When He defeated death, He defeated the grip sin had on us.
So while a life well lived has great impact on your community, it has no impact on your eternity. I’m NOT saying this to say that Tuck’s actions were of no consequence, just no consequence on his entrance into Heaven. They were of great consequence to those he impacted. I’m also not suggesting that Tuck is not in Heaven for only God and those closest to him would know if he accepted that free gift from Jesus or not, I for one certainly prayed a long time last night that he had accepted Christ into his heart.
So what’s the point or moral to this? Two points I want everyone to take away.
- While it’s important for us to live life well and show His love… it is crucial for us to no rely upon our life’s actions to get us into Heaven. Only “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
- Second and of equal importance is to be sure your loved ones don’t wonder about your place for eternity. Assure them of your salvation now so that one day at your memorial service, as they celebrate the great life you lived… they can say with total confidence that you are now and forever in the arms of your savior.