We lived in Arkansas for fifteen years years and this is what would I tell people when giving directions to our church building. If nothing else, it usually got their attention because for better or worse, funeral homes usually stand out. Nothing else really looks quite like a funeral home. Architecturally, they might resemble a church or a city government building, but the hearse in the parking lot is a dead giveaway (sorry). Notice how in the picture above, the funeral home made sure the hearse was not visible. Then too, you’ll usually find the words funeral home, mortuary, or something else from the death vocabulary on the building itself or on a marquee close by. All of this combines to have a powerful effect upon us so that the building is emotionally/psychologically branded and not confused with anything else.
Whatever else it is, the community of believers known as the church should be the very antithesis of a funeral home. The church is where life reigns through the person of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the church was established through His resurrection from the dead (Matthew 16:18), and it’s entered into by virtue of our being raised from the dead (Colossians 2:12). The church is about life!
When an angel released the apostles from jail, they were told, “Go, stand in the temple courts . . . and tell the people the full message of this new life,” (Acts 5:20). This is our commission! Jesus is the “full message of this life.” There’s nothing peripheral or partial about the good news. It is not for a few people, for a few hours, in a few places. It is for every person, in every circumstance, in every place.
Whatever else we communicate to each other and to those outside the church, it must be life-related. Whether we are breaking the bread of communion, distributing bread to the needy, or enjoying a meal ourselves—it is all the bread of life. Whether we are witnessing a baptism, sharing a cup of water in the name of Jesus, or enjoying time at the lake—it all is the water of life. Whether it is faith, hope, or love—it is life. It has to be this because it is all given to us by the Lord of life.
The specter of death is always present in this world in terms of our mortality or that of those we love. There are sicknesses, diseases, accidents and other things to be avoided. But because of Jesus, there is not only life after death—there is life before death. We are in the business of life!
If you get to the funeral home you’ve gone too far!