Every one of us will experience a physical death. That reality, as weighty as it may be, is one that we may avoid pondering until we experience an urgent reminder of our own mortality.
This reminder may be in form of watching a loved one die or receiving an unexpected diagnosis. Though death is a collective human reality, the topic is often avoided with the very people who feel the need to talk about it most.
After 27-year-old Holly Butcher died of cancer, a Facebook post where she shared her life advice went viral. She wrote the piece as she was dying.
Considering the attention it has drawn, people do want to talk about death. Butcher expressed the need to really talk about the death she knew she would soon be facing, and she is not alone in that desire.
Another woman also faced an unexpected cancer diagnosis. She could sense something was seriously wrong with her health.
Pneumonia was her guess, but it was actually brain cancer. Doctors told her she had two weeks to two months to live.
The woman, on her deathbed, felt the need to talk about her death like Butcher. This particular woman wanted to talk to a pastor to make sure she was going to heaven.
Brian Bowman, the lead pastor at Valley Life Tramonto in Phoenix, Arizona, had a response that may surprise you.
He had good news for her, but it wasn’t a comforting assurance that she would go to heaven because she tried to live a good life.
As Bowman prepared to talk to her, that’s what he “desperately” wanted to say. But that wasn’t the good news he was going to tell her.
Bowman started by telling the woman that she was actually unacceptable to God. He even described her as God’s enemy, as a thief, and said, “Your anger looks a lot like murder.”
Even if she faced God without any of those sins and just her good deeds, he shared, “The uncleanness of your heart has tainted even your good deeds.”
Bowman knew that part of the gospel is offensive, but also knew he needed to start with that before explaining God’s great love for her.
“God loves you so much that He sent His Son to come here and live a perfect life, and He’s giving you the record of His righteousness if you will take it,” he told the woman. The woman was not offended.
Not only did she want to take it, but she knew she needed Jesus to take on the curse that was for her. She responded, “If He’ll take me, He can have me.”
The gospel is the good news the pastor shared with the woman on her deathbed, though it’s offensive. Who’s willing to potentially offend a dying woman? Somebody who knows the gospel is both “offensive and freeing.”
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