Did you see the creepy story last week about that woman’s funeral in New Orleans? Seems her family and friends decided that her memorial service should reflect the way she lived her life. Since she was a well-known party girl who loved to watch her New Orleans Saints on television, they arranged to have the funeral home dress her body in her best game day clothes and sit her in a chair at a table. And so as the memorial service commenced, there she sat with a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette between the fingers of the other with a football game playing on the large flat screen behind her. There were even disco lights spinning around to set the right mood for her funeral ‘party.’
I guess if this display hadn’t been at a funeral home, and you didn’t know any better, you might have been able to pass right by this woman and not realized what was known to everyone else in the room. This woman was dead. No pulse. No light in her eyes. No thoughts. No awareness. No ability to move. No life.
Weird, to say the least. But, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people in this world are spiritually doing the exact same thing. Ephesians 2 is extraordinarily clear about the condition of humanity before Christ cleanses us of sin and comes into our lives. Verse 2 says without Him we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” We’re not sick. Not in need of a little help from a doctor. Not needing to work on a few things. And no matter how nice you dress yourself up, or how well you arrange things around you or how much of a party atmosphere you create, the fact that remains that without Christ, your spirit is dead. Dead. And we’re no more able to change the reality of our condition than the friends of the lady sitting dead at the table in that funeral home.
That’s the problem we all face. We’re born spiritually dead. And we can’t do anything to help ourselves.
But thank goodness that’s not where our story ends.
Ephesians 2:4 reminds us that we have a God who overflows with love toward us and is full of mercy and grace. It’s because of His compassion and great heart of concern for our situation that He sent Jesus Christ to pay our penalty for sin and become our resurrection.
Most people who’ve been to church very much are familiar with the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. While we may know the details of this great miracle from the first century, what people often miss is that it’s also a great visual picture of what Christ offers to do for each of us right here, right now. We’re dead in sin. And the only hope we have for leaving our tomb is through trusting the power of God through Christ to raise us up and give us new life.
While there are countless categories of occupations, hobbies, and political persuasions that we may default to in describing ourselves, there really are only two kinds of people in this world. You are dead, or you are alive… you are either in sin, or in Christ. And no matter how wealthy eloquent or influential you are, you can’t change your condition by yourself. It only happens through belief in Christ’s work on our behalf. Here is His promise. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (Jn 11:25-26)
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you … may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19