SIMPLE TRUTH: Barber shop talk

Published 1:02 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2013

By Charles Christmas

Tom had a difficult journey of multiple years in his double bout with cancer. As his need required, his devoted wife, Mary, rose to the occasion as his 24/7 caregiver. He died Thursday night.

Several months earlier, I had been honored by being invited by Tom to be one of his pastors, so I was called about daylight. Responding immediately by a visit, I found what I had expected: the large family present with “a peace that is beyond human understanding” which only mature Christians can experience. After a brief family time, I left to go to the barber shop.

News had swiftly traveled. A man, whom I did not know, remarked, “He did a lot of good in this community.” By “community” he meant the large territory including Mineral Springs, Union Grove, New Salem, Thorsby and Jemison.

I left the barber shop with the words of that citizen ringing in my ears: “He did a lot of good.” Then I recalled the words of Simon Peter preaching about Jesus in the house of Cornelius: he said, “Jesus went about doing good” and setting free those under the power of Satan because God was with him (Acts10:38). It was a lot like the example of Jesus: “doing a lot of good in this community.” I saw that this was not only the conviction of one citizen, but of several hundred persons who lined the walls for the sharing time on Sunday evening at the Union Grove sanctuary and attending the memorial worship on Monday morning.

For Tom and Mary, Jesus Christ was not simply the person to imitate by doing good; he was the One who came to eradicate our sins and sinning through his cross and resurrection. He is the one to demonstrate by his Holy Spirit in us that a Christ-like life can be a reality. This “lot of good” through Tom and Mary was also revealed in a family of Christian children, as well as seventeen churches of peace and Spirit-led progress and ministries.

It seems marvelous to me that after being pastor of twelve churches outside our county, God could bring Tom and Mary back to his own home community for his last twenty years, and final five full-time pastorates.

In John 15:16, Jesus said to his chosen disciples, “You did not choose me, but I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bear fruit; fruit that will last.” I perceive that God has produced much lasting fruit throughout the years through Tom’s and Mary’s life and ministries. Lasting fruit will yet be produced which only eternity can reveal.

The question comes to me: How can we continue to love someone who is not with us any longer in the body? The answer: by remembering him and thanking God for him. Philippians 1:3 says, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” As you remember the person, life and actions of a deceased friend or loved one, let it become a time of giving thanks to God often. How can the deceased continue to impact our lives? They can become very meaningful as we allow our memories of them to support, encourage, inspire, challenge and set an example for us. It may be that some memories can help us by rebuking and correcting us. If your memories remind you of some way or ways that you failed the deceased some time during life, let it be a time of confession of your failings to God and receive forgiveness.

If the deceased was a committed believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, let simplicity fill your mind about what death means. Instead of desiring details or following imaginations, be at peace in knowing that the Bible simply says that it is “to be absent from the body and present with the Lord Jesus Christ which is gain and far better than any earthly existence, experience or possession.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.