Are You Afraid of Death?
Why are we Americans, in particular, so terribly concerned with NOT dying? Granted I do not look forward to the process of death; disease, disability, reduced physical and mental capacities. However, death itself will be a welcome relief from the cares of this world.
Please, do not take this too far. Christians are opposed to euthanasia and suicide. These are not in our playbook! We are the people who follow the Lord of LIFE! He is the One who has created us, and He made us for His own pleasure.
However, if following Jesus calls for suffering in this world, James has laid down for Christ-followers this mandate: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3) Or if you prefer the KJV, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
Do not complain when things are difficult or do not go according to our plans. Look instead for Father’s hand in how our suffering will lead us to understand the suffering of Jesus more clearly. Look for the opportunity to represent Jesus to a watching world, differently than the reactions of people who do not know Him. Look for “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) to guard your mind against fleshly or demonic influences that will rage against our inconveniences.
And if death is on the horizon for a Christ-follower, we who know the Lord of Life, should be the last to moan and groan, “Why me!?”
How much better to recognize the Spectre with his scythe to collect souls, and laugh at him!? “O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?” This is the victory of LIFE OVER DEATH! Do we believe Jesus or not when He says, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”? (Luke 17:33) Or in John 12:25, “ Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”?
Dying in the Lord
Christ-followers, we have become far too attached to this world when we resist the idea of dying in the Lord. The apostle Paul noted to a young church, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better!“ (Philippians 1:20-23) Of course, Paul left the timing of his departure up to the Lord, but his point here was that death held no fear. He was laughing at the Spectre’s face!
The fictional demon, Screwtape, when instructing his young protégé, Wormwood, taught, “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home on earth… You will notice that the young are generally [more willing] to die than the middle-aged and the old.” (Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)
Have we been fooled into thinking THIS is the life that matters? Do we really feel “at home on earth”!? Who would want to spend eternity watching “I Love Lucy” or “Friends” reruns on television, or seeing what Hollywood will come up with next to entertain us? Do we really want to continue playing video games or working for companies that minimize our contributions in order to maximize profits? What is THIS life for? Francis Chan asked, “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?”
So friend, if you love life, you will love what Jesus offers: eternal life, perfect health, a Home in Heaven more astounding than any beauty this world can show, friends who will never desert you, no more cruelty or death. Most of all HE will be there, seated on His throne, ever available to hold us in His arms and reveal all that He has planned for us for eternity! It almost makes one want to die to begin that wonderful LIFE and “be with Christ which is far better.”
But Father has set the times for each of us, and we need not rush it. But neither should we fear it. He will call our names and we will rise when He is ready for us. Laugh at Death and tell him, “Come and get me if my Lord allows!” Because when we “die in the Lord,” we will live forever with Jesus (Revelation 14:13).