A good man passed into glory yesterday. Mike was someone I only had the pleasure of knowing for a short time of his long life. For nearly six years we belonged to the same church, a church that he was a founding member of about 54 years ago. The woman in the picture with him is his wife. I don't know how long they were married but I am fairly certain it was more than 60 years.
Over those six years I had the pleasure of having a number of conversations with Mike. I always appreciated that while he was an older member of the church, and someone who had been there since its beginning, he always treated me well, as an equal member, so-to-speak. He was in many ways my elder but he never spoke down to me.
I am particularly fond of his frequent encouragement over the past two years as I sought a position as a pastor. Once, hearing that I had had a second interview with a church, he said "What's taking them so long!" Not a question, but a statement. My search was a slow one but Mike was affirming towards me and believed I would be called to serve God somewhere.
If I talked to those who knew Mike much longer and better than myself I am sure that I could hear many memories that would affirm my opening claim, that Mike was a good man. And I do believe that by earthly standards Mike was a good man. But earthly standards are transient, as are our earthly lives.
Mike was a good man not because of the various, and likely many, good things that he did during his earthly life. Mike was a good man because he put his faith in the only person who was truly good, Jesus Christ.
The Heidelberg Catechism is a statement that explains Christian faith from a Reformed perspective, with each question-and-answer firmly rooted in the Bible. The first one is the most well-known, and it says:
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
The Heidelberg Catechism was written 450 years ago. These words provide great comfort for believers in Jesus. There are over 20 scripture references supporting answer number one, and you can read them here.
My friend Mike was not a good man because of what he did during his earthly life, but because of the Good Man who holds him in life, and in death. Today is a rather ordinary day for me and Mike is spending it in eternal glory with his faithful Lord and Savior. And that makes me glad.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.