Senator Edward Kennedy has died, succumbing to the cancer that he was diagnosed with some time ago. It will be a passing that will attract a great deal of commentary. I can only hope that commentators on the right and left will refrain from using his death to score political points, and I especially ask my Christian brothers to refraining from proclaiming some sort of a sense of justice in his death. I didn’t like Senator Kennedy’s politics, not one bit. His treatment of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were shameful. His personal life was, to say the least, unbecoming a U.S. Senator. His votes on key issues across the board have led to policies that I believe have led to the economic and moral collapse of America. However, my concern otday is not to eulogize the life of Ted Kennedy or to speak out against the politics of Senator Edward Kennedy. My thoughts today are on the death of someone who by all appearances was lost. My thoughts are on how, as a Christian, I should be thinking about the death of Ted Kennedy.
As the old saying goes, there but by the grace of God go I. Ted Kennedy, as a public figure and especially as a Kennedy, was in the public eye so his failings were part of the public record. Let’s be honest, he also never shied away from that public eye and certainly seems to have used the power and prestige of the Kennedy name to garner earthly power and indulge in many things that would be seen as distasteful. But we who claim the name of Christ are different from Ted Kennedy only by grace. I know what I am capable of and I can only imagine what I would have been like apart from the grace of God coupled with the power and wealth of the Kennedys. Ted Kennedy didn’t need to change parties or vote differently or stop running around like a fool, he needed Christ. It seems that he died that same way, like so many others: lost sinners in need of a Savior.
Ultimately as Christians, this should not be a day of grim satisfaction that Ted Kennedy finally “got what was coming to him”. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, we all have it coming to us. This should be another occasion for profound sadness that another soul has passed on to eternity apart from Christ to judgment and it should embolden us even further to proclaim Christ to a lost and dying world. Cancer and other forms of death know no social boundaries. We are called, each and every one of us, to proclaim Christ to a lost and dying world, to every people and tribe and nation, to lowly beggars and to kings, to farmers and even to Senators to espouse policies we abhor. The judgment of God will pass over only those covered the blood of the spotless Lamb and that is the message for the world. Let us preach it today to someone who is lost.