On Death and Dying

Every time we are faced with a sad goodbye, we are reminded that death stinks and we are simply not hardwired to deal with it.  Death is so unwelcome, often sudden, crushingly final and full of unknowns.  It’s catastrophic when someone dies young, but really how much better is it when we loose a loved one advanced in years?  Ask any women who has lost her father and she will tell you not a day goes by without her thinking of her daddy. 

In the midst of all this, God’s Word brings hope and comfort regarding death:  through His resurrection Christ is Lord both of the living AND the dead.  What is unknown to us is fully known and subject to Him.

             Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory, O death, 

where is your sting?

That is an outrageous statement, but the kind statement we have come to expect from the Bible.  Here’s why it’s true:

                Therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through my faith in the Son of God - His death and resurrection - I have peace with my Creator.  The sin that condemned me and caused separation has been forever cast down. Christ left death in the dust when He rose again and became the firstborn from the dead. 

                                              For me to live, then, is Christ and die is gain. 

As a Christ-follower my one consuming passion can only be to love and serve Him with all of my being.  What else is there to live for?  And I live with this grace:

                    Christ delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to

                                                          lifelong slavery.  

If you know Christ, death is not something to be unduly feared.  That is why Paul says,

                                                   Christ in us, the hope of glory!

Remember, then, your mortality and bring it to mind often.  Considering the brevity of life is an exercise in realism which refines our perspective and purpose in many helpful ways. Here are just a handful:   

1)      It will remind you of how fragile and fleeting life is.  Hug those you love today because you aren’t guaranteed you will see them tomorrow.   

2)      Work hard, climb the corporate ladder, knock yourself out.  But don’t neglect what really matters in life.  Know what matters and chase after it…them…Him.  

3)      You’re not taking your money with you when you die.  Are you using it wisely?  After you give to your church, consider being generous to homeless shelters, cancer research, missions, etc. 

4)      Don’t waste your life, even the bad stuff.  We serve a God who redeems the years the locusts have eaten and works all things for your good.  Only GOD can say that!

5)      This life isn’t where it’s at.  All your passing pleasures will one day go up in smoke.  Conversely, so will your trials and heartaches.  He will wipe away ever tear.  There is both wisdom and comfort in the eternal perspective, for He is making all things new!

6)      It will help you fix your eyes on what is unseen versus what is seen.  Paul’s logic here is simple:  what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal.  If I’m going to put my eggs in one basket, the second option makes much more sense!

7)      Keeping eternity before you will propel you to holiness, compassion, a healthy work ethic, right priorities, generosity, and the ability to overlook faults in others.  Reflecting on eternity just has a way of developing all this within us!

C.T. Studd, a great pioneer in missions, often said,

                                                                    Only one life

                                                             ‘twill soon be passed.

                                                       Only what is done for Christ

                                                                       will last.

God used that very phrase to call my grandfather to be a missionary in Africa and later in France.  Living for eternity, he would later tell me when I was a teen that he had no regrets in life, for he lived fully for the Savior.

Life is short:  always keep it simple and stick to the Script! 

- Pastor Colin