By Lonnie Wilkey
As December wound to a close, I received word that my great uncle, Blake Wilkey, had died at the age of 98. He was my grandfather’s (Pop) last remaining brother. I remembered “Uncle Blake,” having visited him many times as a child, but I had not really kept in touch with him other than updates from my Uncle Bill (Pop’s son) and Aunt Lynn, who maintained a close relationship over the years.
Still, I felt like I should attend his funeral, so on New Year’s Day, my wife Joyce and I made the approximately four-hour trip to Robbinsville, N.C., located in Graham County, which borders Monroe County in southeast Tennessee near Tellico Plains.
Upon arriving to the funeral home, I visited with his wife and two children but didn’t really know very many others who were in attendance. The standing joke with the Wilkey family is that you can tell a Wilkey man “by his ears” so I saw several folks whom I assumed were distant cousins. In fact, I later discovered that the two pastors who conducted the funeral were relatives.
It was a simple country funeral. Both men were good friends with my late uncle and spoke highly of him and his family.
One of the pastors began his message by saying, “Blake Wilkey was a good man.” He then went on in great detail about how he was a good husband, a good father, a good family man, a good church member, and the list went on.
Then, the elderly country pastor clearly communicated the point he was trying to make: No matter how good Blake Wilkey was, he was not good enough to go to heaven, EXCEPT for a decision he made decades ago when he confessed his sins and gave his heart to Jesus Christ and made Him Lord and Savior of his life.
What a great reminder for all Christians as we begin 2020. How many of us know some really “good” people? They may be your neighbors. They could be people you work with or see at the local baseball and football games where your children play. We all know “good” people — people who would give you the shirts off their backs or come over to help you fix the leaking faucet or toilet in your house.
But, are they good enough? If they were to die tomorrow, would they go to heaven? Hopefully, we know, but sadly, many of us do not because we never asked. Christians, and I am guilty, sometimes assume a person’s spiritual condition because of how he or she lives his or her life. We don’t take the time to ask if they know Jesus.
In our own state, it is estimated that four million of Tennessee’s more than seven million population are lost, having no relationship with Jesus Christ. I would dare say that thousands upon thousands of those four million lost Tennessee Baptists are “good people.” But being good is not enough.
Here are a couple of other statistics that might interest and, hopefully, frighten you. Only one out of 10 of our world’s youngest and largest generation (Gen. Z, those currently between the ages of 4 and 24), will come to faith by adulthood.
Look out your car window when you drive to church on Sunday. Eight out of 10 of your neighbors will not be in anyone’s church on any given Sunday. And, if you conducted a survey, you probably would discover that many of those folks are “good” people, but good is not good enough.
As we enter a new year, make a resolution to really get to know the people you think you know already. Get acquainted with your neighbors and others you are in constant contact with.
By doing so, if you ever have the opportunity to attend a funeral one day, you won’t have to wonder, Were they “good” enough? You will know because you shared the good news of Jesus Christ with them. B&R