Christian Funeral Service for Joe Edwin Hobson June 7, 2019
Text: Philippians 1:21,23; 3:7-14 19:2135
Theme: I’m Pressing on in Christ!
If you could come up with one word that best describes J.E. Hobson, what would it be? Oh, I know the difficulties of that, and I am sure we could come up with a great variety of words. But choose one – only one. What would it be?
I chose 3. First is “generous.” I don’t know how many times I saw him secretively press a $20 bill or even a $100 bill into someone’s hand who could use it, without letting anyone see what he was doing. He would do that with our daughters when they went away to school. He was generous that way.
The second word is “positive.” He looked at things in a positive way, not negatively. He tended to talk about faith that way.
The other day I was looking in the Bible he always left behind in the pew that you, Jean Carol, and he sat in. I was reading verses he wrote down or underlined. Many of them were passages like Jesus telling His disciples, “If you had faith as small as a mustard seed, you could move mountains.” Other verses concerned miracles that Jesus performed when He would say to the one whom he healed, “Your faith has saved you.” That’s what I mean by positive.
You know, during his illness I never once heard J.E. complain. He may have said a few things to you Jean Carol about the realities of his treatments and his pain, but never once did he complain to me. He never asked me “why,” like many people do. He just pressed on, enduring, placing it in the hands of God.
That leads me to the last word: “forward-looking.” And that’s the reason for this text: “I press on to take hold of the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Family, think of it. How many times didn’t you hear him say something like, “I’m ready to go,” or “I’m looking forward to it,” or “I can’t wait to get there,” and he was doing that long before his illness struck. J.E. was ready to be with the Savior above. He was pressing on in Christ. It was important to him because he knew…
I.…that compared to knowing Christ everything else is secondary.
What’s important to you – job, home, grades in school, money, recognition, family? What’s important? That can change in life.
When I was a young boy sports were important to me. I liked to
fantasize about being the game’s hero, the guy who makes the winning goal. It was important to me then. It isn’t anymore.
When I was a teenager, I began to turn from sports to the arts – music, literature, acting. I wanted to be known for my artistic abilities. It was important to me then. It isn’t anymore.
When I got into my 20s, my grades in school became important. Dreams of a good career rest on good grades. I wanted to be known as intelligent, gifted. It was important to me then. It isn’t anymore.
In my 30s, 40s, and 50s advancement in my profession became important. How will I stay at the peak of performance? It was important to me then. It isn’t as important anymore, although I do want to do the best that I can to the glory of God and good of others
As I’m now into my 60s, I’m not sure what’s so important to me. My family for sure, but should I be concerned about leaving a legacy behind. After all, I’m probably in the last 1/4 of my life. Don’t I want all that’s already behind me to have some meaning, some significance for myself and others?
And I think about all the things that made up J.E’s life from his navy days, to his deep-sea diving, to trips with the family, to realty, to fishing, to boating, all the things that he could do and all the stories he would tell. Certainly, he would want to leave a legacy behind. And he did, especially in his family. And it was important. But all of that was secondary to his knowing Christ.
What’s important? What’s of value? For what do we wish to be recognized? Paul’s answer? “Nothing in me or of mine. I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things; I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own…but the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
Paul called every “great” thing that he had done, especially if he relied on it to make himself right before God, “rubbish,” “garbage,” “trash,” literally, “dung,” we might say, “manure.” Compared to knowing Christ, it’s all secondary, even worthless eternally.
You can put anything on the scale of importance next to Christ and there is no comparison. In fact, you can put everything on that scale and there is no comparison in value to having Christ. Why? Because He and He alone makes us right before God. Only through His death is our sin paid for and only through His resurrection do we have the hope of eternal life. And those blessings become ours by faith, trusting in God’s words and works of grace and promises, nothing else, not in what we have done or gained with our hands.
The Lord Jesus Himself said that a person might be able to gain the whole world by what he did. But, if in the process he loses his soul, what good is any of it? Some of the things that we regard as good and as an advantage in our lives can actually harm us. “Manure!” Paul calls it. Get rid of it if it hinders you from Christ. If any person or thing or thought of self-grandeur or self-righteousness comes between you and the Lord Jesus, get rid of it.
Compared to knowing Christ, everything else is secondary. I can’t look upon the heart; only God can do that. But in talking with J.E. over the years, to me, he, who did not want other people to know the good things that he did – to me, that is J.E. I think in the end he would say: I’m pressing on in Christ…
II. …pressing on towards the heavenly prize.
Paul wrote, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to gain the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
When we were kids, we used to see who could make the straightest tracks in the snow. Some looked down at their feet. Others looked behind them at the tracks they had made. Neither of them accomplished anything. The ones making the straight tracks were those who looked ahead, at a high point, like a cross on a church steeple, and walked towards it.
There is no higher point than the cross of Christ, our Savior. And there is no higher place than the heaven He has won for us through His suffering and death. And there is no greater life to live than to press on in the Savior’s footsteps in thankful living now and, by faith in Him alone, press on into eternity with Him. I’m Pressing on in Christ to the heavenly prize. To me that was J.E.
But he is no longer pressing on. That’s what we do here. Now, through such faith in the Savior, my parishioner, my father-in-law, my friend no longer presses on. By faith he’s there, at the Savior’s side, resting without any pain in the place that he so often talked about and where he always wanted to be. That generous, positive, forward looking…man of faith now says: “Surely, goodness and mercy followed me all the days of my life there. But now I dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God grant it to us all in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.