Monday, August 19, 2013

Death ......................... Parables 011

“Seems as if a lot of people are dying these days . . .” — the statement of a 14-year-old, his mind somewhat numbed by pictures of the wreckage strewn over the Atlantic and then over the wooded hills near Hinton. He was wondering why. 

We wonder too, briefly and then we go about life as usual. There is something in each one of us that blocks thoughts of death. We can imagine ourselves in pain, suffering, or maybe with the loss of some limbs, but since we don’t want to think about that, we usually don’t let our minds wander to even that subject. When the news seems to be filled with tragic death, few people think, “That could have been me.” Few . . .  and not for long. 

Death, especially sudden death, is unimaginable, undesirable, and hardly the favorite dinner-party topic of conversation. We’ll discuss all kinds of other horrible certainties, uncertainties, and other unpleasant things, but that one is so final, so mysterious, and all too inescapable. After all, every society has a death rate of 100%.

The book of Ecclesiastes says that “no man has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, neither hath he power in the day of death.” (8:8) Certainly that is why it is so disdained in conversation, so rejected from our thought life. We cannot control death. Nor can we stop it, or change it. And for some, both on the train and in the shuttle, there isn’t even a moment to anticipate it. One minute there is life, the next . . .

God says something about death that startles me upon first reading. “Blessed are the dead which dieth in the Lord . . . ” (Revelation 14:13). The Bible affirms that anyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation is in Christ, and that anyone who believes in the Son of God has Christ in Him, and because of that, has eternal life already. This eternal life does not begin after this life is over. It begins the moment a person truly believes. 

“This then is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, and he who has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11-13).

Maybe there is someone who reads this column that is thinking about death. Thoughts that used to be easily pushed aside somehow no longer stay away. And there is no assurance, only fear, fear of what comes after that, fear of the event itself. Hebrews 2 gives good news: Jesus Christ became a man so that, by the grace of God, he could taste death for every man. Through His death, He destroyed him that had the power of death, and delivers them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Yes, a lot of people are dying these days. Some suddenly, some tragically, some slowly, some painfully, yet some who die physically never really die. In Christ, they are ready to meet that enemy without fear, because He, the One who conquered death, did it so that those who believe merely change their place of residence.

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