This past week, I did two funerals of people I did not know. This has many challenges, but the greatest of them may be how do you deal with the soul of that person you never knew? In both cases, I was able to heed the best advice I have ever received in doing a funeral, especially for those I did not know.
“Don’t preach them into heaven; don’t preach them into hell; just preach the gospel for the people who are there.”
The funeral service is not for the deceased, but ultimately for those who remain and are trying to figure out how to deal with the loss of their loved one. Our task is to help them grieve their loss, and make sure they know there is no hope when facing sin and death apart from Christ.
Pastors, don’t preach them into heaven. Don’t preach them into hell. We are not in a position to do either. What we can always do is preach the gospel for the people who have gathered who are looking for answers and hope.