Your grandma isn’t an angel… This is how you’re supposed to do it, right? Start off a blog with a borderline insult to get people’s interest enough to read something? If it makes you feel any better, neither is mine. So rest easy, friends, what I am about to tell you is the furthest thing from an insult.
Social media makes me cringe sometimes. Mixed in with all these pictures of our kids, our projects, and our food, we say things that reveal who we really are and what we really believe. Not too long ago I saw someone post something that made me wonder- “Do you really believe that? And where did you come up with that?” Someone’s grandma had died and they decided to share the news via Facebook. In one of the comments there was an attempt made to comfort- but what they said was wrong… and insulting, really. Their response was something along the lines of “Your grandma’s got her wings now, she’s an angel watching over you.”
Wait a second.
I’m a pastor. I am a little bit analytical (depending on who you ask). I read my Bible. This “comfort” just about made me shut down… primarily because I don’t know which lie to address first.
Let’s assume that grandma loved Jesus, has followed Him, and been known by Him… Setting aside the automatic language, there is still something horrible here- the thought that when a Christian dies they become an angel.
Your grandma is not an angel.
Someone right now is trying to think of that thing Jesus said about us becoming angels… look for that verse, because you won’t find it. Yes, Jesus said that we will be like the angels in heaven in Matthew 22:30, but if you read the whole context- some guy wanted to know who we’d be married to in heaven- you’d see Jesus isn’t implying a destiny for us of halos, harps, and hwings (sorry, couldn’t resist). Instead, Jesus is talking about focus. Angels aren’t caught up in sideline issues, their focus is solely on glorifying Jesus. Want to know what would be more comforting to hear? “Your grandma is looking at Jesus right now. He has her undivided attention.”
Your grandma isn’t an angel… she is something more.
I was preaching from Matthew 25:31-46 this past Sunday and something occurred to me the Monday after. Throughout the Bible there are numerous mentions of angels. Each time they are mentioned it is in direct connection with their function- messengers, warriors, ministers, and servants. And that’s it.
In fact, the text says that angels accompany Jesus at His appearing to gather all the nations before Him. Then Jesus separates those nations like a shepherd distinguishes between sheep and goats. The ‘goats’ are sent away, cursed, doomed… but those ‘sheep’ hear a different word: “Inherit.”
Do you know who receives an inheritance? Family. Your Jesus-loving grandma isn’t sent off to heaven to be a messenger, a warrior, an employee. That would be an insult! Angels were not made in the image of God, and they are outside observers of the gospel. Instead, she is welcomed in to God’s family, she has been made a daughter of the king.
If I die before Christ returns, please don’t think I have become an angel, or that I will be looking down on you, or checking in from time to time. Know that I will be speaking with my Savior as I would with my brother, or my closest friend. Know that I am enjoying a son’s inheritance of God Himself.