Death is all around. Just read the news. One cannot escape it, quite literally. Recently, someone close to my circle died unexpectedly. The majority of the responses that I witnessed to this death were actually unresponsive, almost as if the survivors were paralyzed by the fact of death. I got the sense that there is a fear that the grim reaper arbitrarily takes whom he pleases, whenever he pleases. When someone dies, there is no understanding of the meaning of death, its finality, and worst of all, there is absolutely no hope that flows from this reality. From my limited experience with life (31 years), this has been the response to death that I always encounter and actually feel myself. It is despairing.
As our culture continues to turn itself away from its divine origins and focus solely on the self, death has increasingly become a tougher and tougher pill to swallow. I’m a Christian and I believe (most of the time) that there is life after death. As N.T. Wright explains, there is in fact life after life after death, meaning that after one dies his or her spirit resides with the Creator until Jesus Christ brings heaven down to earth and all of creation (this world here) is renewed and redeemed. At that point, the believer will be resurrected with a new body. Sounds interesting doesn’t it. I want to believe that and the majority of the time I do.
But then, someone dies. And you go to the memorial and there is not one mention of God or one mention of heaven. There is sort of this vague and uncertain assumption that the deceased is still alive and lives with us in our hearts and in nature. Ok. What do I really believe about this? Have I really accepted the fact that I too will die, today, tomorrow, next year, in twenty years or fifty? What does that mean? Does this fact negate that life has meaning? Is it all b.s. and then we die? I hope not. But, if one does not confront the reality of death, then is their faith real? I am not the kind of person that thinks Christianity is all about whether or not you go to heaven or not. Not at all. But, if heaven and the resurrection are not real, then the rest does not matter. The reality of Death puts everything into its rightful place. Politics, right theology, nice cars, intelligence, competition, status, etc. are meaningless in the face of death.
We need to stop denying that death is real. If someone has not told you yet, let me be the first to tell you, “You are going to die.” You are not a machine created by science. I know its hard to believe being that machines are everywhere. Be not mistaken. You are not one of them. No, you are a human being created by Another Person. You are alive. Be thankful. De-emphasize things and focus on relationships. Nourish your relationship with God and hope for the resurrection.