Pastor Marcus Blair, Cornerstone Baptist Church – Centralia
This is the final installment of my series, The Bible Doesn’t Say That. We’ve been all over the map, from “The Devil Made Me Do It” to “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.” Today I’m going to take on some false notions that we often hear at funerals, or when a loved one has died. I want to talk about the idea that when someone dies, they “get wings” and “become an angel.” When someone passes away, folks often say, “Heaven gained another angel.” But is that right?
I don’t want to stomp on anyone’s feelings, and death has been all around us the past month or two. But it’s important to know that people do not turn into angels when they die, nor do angels have to earn wings. These ideas come to us through movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And I’ll admit, it’s a nice thought, to think of our deceased loved ones gaining something like wings when they die. But it’s just not right. Angels are angels, and humans are humans, and they don’t turn into each other in any way, anymore than you can turn into a giraffe.
People say lots of things to try to make people feel better when someone has died. I remember the funeral for my dear friend Phil Gardenhire. Phil was a deacon at my church when I was a teenager and he was a legendary announcer for professional rodeo. He would announce from horseback, in the arena. He had a deep, bass voice that was just amazing. He died unexpectedly in a car crash one evening in my hometown. We were all devastated. We all were trying to make sense of it. Hundreds of people attended his funeral and I’ll never forget what the preacher said as long as I live. That preacher said, “God needed the best rodeo announcer ever for the big roundup in the sky so he called Bro. Phil home.” I was angry. I didn’t quite know why at the time, but now I do. It made me angry that instead of talking about Phil being in glory with Jesus, and being in a state of eternal perfection, and glorifying Jesus for saving Phil’s soul, he turned it into something cheap and cheesy that is no more true than the man in the moon!
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard