the best wed­ding is a funeral

Again we have an odd title. Silly man you think. How can, in all the world, a wedding ever be equivalent to a funeral? A funeral is a place and time that revolves around death. A wedding is a place and time that revolves around new life. But then you think and say, wait a second. Are there not funerals where people rejoice and celebrate the life that has passed? Thinking even more deeply, we realize that part of the dread experienced at a funeral arises from the uncertain life that awaits the living after the passing of the dead. Another name for this life after a funeral is this thing we call grief.

Or consider the wedding. Oh so so happy we say. Let us dance and rejoice. Yet even the classic wedding song Here Comes The Bride shares notes with the Danse Macabre. Therefore, the mothers at the wedding feast weep with joy and grief. For they remember what we must not forget: in the wedding, we are witnessing the death of two people as they are reborn into one. If either the woman or the man getting married refuses to die then an imperceptible crack forms in the crystal of the union. It is the beginning of a divorce and in the day of stress, the crystal fractures and shatters into dust. This refusal to be in union through death may manifest dramatically as adultery or wanderlust or whatever else. But in reality it is rooted in the pursuit of happiness instead pursuing the death that produces deep joy. And so when a couple dwells on and idolizes happiness, they thereby guarantee that they will never experience joy.

Better The Funeral

Is it wise then to dwell on death at a wedding? Hush now and listen closely. Do you hear the echoes of king Solomon? “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning but the heart of fools in the house of mirth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 What a deep word! Now you may begin by saying that surely Solomon is mistaken. But if God has blessed, age and time will make you pause so that you may detect the truth in his words. Today at church, I had occasion to remember again this great truth. But oddly enough the occasion was a baptism, otherwise known as the heavenly wedding. Everyone rightly rejoiced at this baptism. But when Solomon’s words came to mind, I thought, “If there is mirth here, then can any wisdom be gained at this holy wedding?” The, of course, answer is yes. Because this wedding is also a funeral.

Baptism is about our union with The Living God through Jesus Christ. Yet like a wedding, your baptism marks your death to the world so that you may pursue a new life in Jesus Christ. Therefore, baptism is an occasion for joy by being both a funeral and a wedding. In that moment, we witness The Lord Who died that He might be joined to His son. There we witness a daughter whose old life drowns in the water that she may emerge joined to her Lord.

And as we move out into the Christian life, we discover that every moment is marked by this dynamic of dying into life. The air of Eternity is poison to the world. A taste of the Lord makes the world taste bitter and makes us taste bitter to the world Galatians 6:14. But often in Christian life, we are tempted (yes! tempted) to wrongly focus on and pursue joy. This is the equivalent of thinking to bake a cake without first even buying the ingredients. By doing this we set ourselves up for failure. For she who will not die cannot remain married. So also, the joys of heaven are only attainable by those who consistently seek for ways to die to the world.

Joy from The Ashes

So when you go to the next baptism, do as Solomon implores you: behold the man or woman choosing to die to the world. Only those who consistently die into life possess joy. But what am I talking about? I speak so cavalierly of going to another baptism. If you are a Christian and feel a need for the rejuvenation of your faith, then it is possible that you were never rightly present at your own baptism. It is possible that you have been dwelling on the mirth of the wedding instead of meditating on the funeral. Therefore, you have been seeking the joy of His Salvation in the wrong way Psalms 51:12. It is not surprising that you have thus far failed to regain it.

So why don’t you give Solomon a try? Stop dreaming of the happiness, riches and blessings of being a Christian as so many popular churches encourage us to do today. According to Solomon such mirthful pop psychology produces in us the hearts and minds of fools. Instead listen to the Wisdom of God through Solomon and let your mind be renewed Romans 12:1-2. Meditate on your baptism … that funeral where you died to the world. Dwell on and pursue the daily death Jesus says you must die. Deny yourself in order to obey Jesus Christ. Take up again the cross you must bear Matthew 16:24-26. Do this, and like springtime flower, your soul will again blossom with the petals of eternal life.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
- Colossians 2:3

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