Some time ago, some of my co-workers (who shall not be named) were reading an obituary. We all knew a bit about the fellow who had died, and the sad fact is that we didn’t like him. To engage in some understatement, our dealings with him had gone very badly, we were far from alone in that experience, and in fact his misdeeds had been reported in other sections of the paper.
The obituary naturally said nothing about this. It focused on the fellow’s good deeds, his religious affiliation and activities, his football fandom (for some people this is the same as religious affiliation), his being a good father and a loving husband, and all the nice things one expects to find in an obituary. So co-worker A reads this and says, “How can they say this about him!!!” And co-worker B, who had worked for this person, agreed.
“Um, ladies, you do remember that obituaries are written by the FAMILIES of the deceased, right? You expect them to say nice things about him,” I said. They were not convinced, and I was not very convincing. “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” was not on any our minds, and a few of us might have wanted to insert a few extra lines into that obituary. Those lines would have been true and may have added some spice to a usually rather sober section of the paper.
We will all get in the newspaper one last time, usually on the left side of the front page, with a small article somewhere inside. We hope someone will find something nice to say about us, and it will be even better if it is true.
But it is even more important who writes our eternal obituary. If someone wrote your WHOLE story, there would be whole pages and chapters you would not be proud of. It could look like something put out by “The National Enquirer”, only it would all be true.
Being a Christian means many things, but very importantly, it means that God has adopted you as His child and that Jesus is your older brother. One consequence of that relationship is that Jesus gets to write your obituary. That means that He takes the bad stuff out, not because He is ignorant or dishonest, but because he took care of all that. To understand this, look at Hebrews 11.
For the atheist, Hebrews 11 doesn’t make sense. Look at all those Old Testament characters getting a nice write-up. Don’t you know that Noah (the guy in the book, not the character in the movie that strangely has the same name) got drunk and naked in his tent? And Abraham, remember that story he told about his wife, and what he did with his concubine? And Sarah laughed at God. And Samson, what a piece of work. And David, well, you know that story. How can the Bible be true with a chapter like this, that only tells the good parts of these people’s stories? Doesn’t this author remember what happened in the Old Testament?!!
Actually, the author, who is inspired by the Holy Spirit, knows exactly what he is doing. The Old Testament looks at these saints’ lives in real time, and that is important. But in Hebrews, he is looking at their lives from this side of the Cross and the empty tomb. Since Jesus has paid the price for their sins, and those sins are completely forgiven, the author of Hebrews does not feel the need to bring them up again.