Double Vision

At a funeral recently, I encouraged our congregation to engage in what I might call "double vision." Now, by that, I don't mean a blurred focus, but rather, a twin focus: the ability to see and acknowledge both a foreground and a background to the problem of human grief. As people of faith, we need to hold in tension that which is immediately before us (the suffering and death of someone we love) and that which lies off in the background, and may be only dimly visible at the moment (the resurrection of Jesus Christ). If we see only the foreground (a spiritual near-sightedness, if you will), then grief will dominate our horizon, and, along with it despair. By contrast, if we fix our eyes only on the background, considering the hope of resurrection, we can slip into a spiritualized denial system, which can make us "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good" as the saying goes. What's needed is to hold onto both horizons, looking hard at both the reality of our pain and loss and at the same time glimpsing the backdrop of our great hope in Christ's resurrection and the assurance of life after death for all who die in him. What we need are the bifocals of faith!

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