My family loves C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Some of our favorite characters are really only mentioned in passing: the Bulgy Bears.
It's just a great name, and they're so comical every time they touch the narrative. My wife and I particularly love this, from chapter seven of Prince Caspian:
"I don't like the idea of running away," said Caspian.That's our motto, too. The Bulgy Bears are sort of a theme in and out of things as well. My family calls my weekly special-recipe burgers alternately "Daddy Burgers" and "Bulgy Burgers®." (Nobody's running anywhere after one of them!)
"Hear him! Hear him!" said the Bulgy Bears. "Whatever we do, don't let's have any running. Especially not before supper; and not too soon after it, neither."
No running before supper. And not too soon after, neither.
Very tangentially, I thought of this in reading three posts by Pastor Chris Anderson. In a way that is characteristically moving and thought-provoking on a number of levels, Chris gives the before (and before) and after of a funeral he just conducted. The very difficult occasion was that of the suicide of the husband of a woman who attends his church with her children.
The aspect I single out today is this:
I’ve preached one other funeral following a suicide. It was extremely tough. It was clear that well over half the people in attendance were offended at my taking the opportunity to present the gospel–a feeling every pastor will know sometime, and probably often.A funeral audience, offended that one of Christ's undershepherds would preach the only One to conquer death — at a funeral! Remarkable.
Remarkable, nonsensical, irrational, but evidently pretty common. The two funerals at which I preached were difficult also. I preached the Gospel at both, but I was spared any complaints.
But Chris' story, in turn, made me think of a friend who (like me) lost his father to cancer.
My friend is the only one in his family to evidence any saving faith, to his concern and sorrow. During his father's final illness, a relative wrote a letter to my friend's father, bearing witness to Christ.
My friend's mother was very offended that someone would write about eternal things at such a time.
"At such a time"? When better?, I wondered.
The truth of the matter is, we are all, always, in exactly "such a time." We are one moment, one incident, one tick of the clock, away from eternity. Less.
For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.It is sad that worldlings so diagnose their case that they confidently conclude that what they need most, when they most need it, is the last thing they need.
(2 Corinthians 6:2)
The real crime, the insanity, is when Christians -- who know better, and who know how blitheringly awful we sons of Adam are at self-diagnosis -- should ever let ourselves be intimidated into silence.
Of course they will be offended. The Cross is an offense (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), and not just at funerals. Of course they will say we are insensitive and foolish; the fragrance of Heaven is the stench of death to the lost, until God sovereignly transforms their spiritual senses (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).
We preach Jesus to such, not because of what they think He is, but because of what God thinks He is; not because they want Him, but because they need Him.
Thank God for men like Chris, for women like Candy -- for all who love people enough graciously and wisely to tell them what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it at the moment or not.