For pastors, there are “easy” funerals and “hard” ones. A hard funeral means either: They aren’t known personally, the person’s salvation is uncertain, or the person’s salvation is certain and they weren’t saved. The easy funeral is when the person’s salvation is not in doubt because their life reflected being in Christ. On Tuesday I did one of the easiest funerals since I’ve been in ministry.
Before God saved him, Chuck Rinehart was an adulterous drunken brawler (That’s his description). When God saved him, I had many people tell me I had no idea how that was real news in Oxford, Alabama. In talking with him I one time asked Chuck about his life prior to Christ to which he told me… “Preacher, as far as I know, the only thing I ain’t done is killed somebody…” (And he was serious).
When God saved Chuck, He made him an evangelist. Chuck wanted everyone to know Jesus. A number of times he’d pick me up to go by and talk with a friend from his old life to tell them about Jesus. Among those Chuck led to Christ were his own dad (just a few weeks before he died) and his father in law (who’s wife had been praying for his salvation for 50 years).
Chuck’s favorite phrase was… “If a person’s heart is right they wouldn’t do that!” But Chuck had a question that he asked me at least four or five times… “Preacher, how many people do you think are going to heaven?” He’d pause then quote Matthew 7:13-14…
Jesus: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Chuck had experienced such a change from darkness to light he couldn’t see how people could call themselves Christians and not live in a way that honored God. He was convinced that those who said they were saved, and didn’t live the life of a Christian, were deceived. In Chuck’s mind, there weren’t near as many people going to heaven as thought they were.
What was the test? Fruit. Holiness. Godliness. Grace… mercy… love… compassion… forgiveness. Chuck just thought that those who were saved would live for Jesus. And he was right.
Many people will miss Chuck. But those who are saved will one day meet him…