Wow! I wasn’t expecting such a response to the last blog–on both sides. Some are shouting, “Amen!.” Others are crying, “Legalism!”
So what is my side? I scripted the blog as my outlook, hence the title. I closed this way: “I am not ready to be dogmatic (meaning you don’t need to believe as I do), but I hope that convenience or budget are not the only considerations being taken. ‘Whatever is not of faith is sin’ (taken from Romans 14 that discusses matters open for different opinions). I have more faith for burying than burning. What about you?”
As a pastor, I would not give my opinion regarding disposition of a body unless I was asked to. And then I would do so carefully. This is not a matter of doctrine but of practice.
I said to my number one son recently, “If only everyone was more like me…” Fortunately for both of us, he laughed. How we deal with non-issues is an issue. How we deal with debatable issues is not open to debate. Relationships are a high priority in the New Testament. Love wins over personal preference. We can’t say, “Don’t be offended!” or, “You should believe like me.” We are going to have differences in the body of Christ. Can we live peaceably together and not judge others? Is your way better? Do you make people feel second rate for doing what they do or believing what they believe? Do you make secondary issues primary? “I’m right!” is not the best way to handle peripheral matters.
Paul takes a full chapter in his primarily doctrinal letter of Romans to deal with the doubtful things, those matters that are up for grabs. The first issue in Romans 14 is eating. People had different convictions about what to eat. Still do. Say the word “organic,” and you just split the crowd in two.
The issue is simple: If God accepts your brother the way he is, you get to as well. What about worship styles? Drinking habits? Entertainment? Politics? Music? Dancing? Clothes? Don’t make an issue of a non-issue. We do what we do fully convinced in heart and in thanksgiving to God–and we let others do the same. (For a longer article on the gray areas, ask for Kevin McClure’s article on adiaphora. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Since the discussion is open, here is more on my outlook:
The disciples were not thinking burial, because they were not thinking death. Jesus, however, was thinking both. Jewish men would be concerned about what would happen to their bodies. So were two unlikely Sanhedrin members, Joseph and Nicodemus, who took care of the burial, referenced in all four Gospels, in the absence of shocked and fearful disciples.So was the woman who anointed Him a few days before His death. It meant so much to Jesus that He memorialized her gift for all time: “In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Matt. 26:12,13).