Friday, 27 June 2014

Death has not been defeated... yet

Last night I saw that a Facebook friend's Dad passed away. In the last month two other people I know have also died. One was an academic of law, an expert in the Australian Constitution. He had been at ANU since the 1960's. I once got excited because I converted him from a mac to a PC. It hardly seems like a big deal now.

The other man was 5 months off his 60th. He was in my weekly Bible Study. At the start of this year he was given 12-24 months. Then it changed to two months. In the last few weeks cancer got to his spine and took the use of his legs. Despite all this, his emails have been a real encouragement to me, as his faith never wavered. I hope that one day I will die as well as this man; or as Luther said about his daughter who died: "God grant me and all my loved ones and all my friends such a death - or rather such a life."

I know it is not popular to talk about death because there is Game of Thrones to watch, and muffins to eat and never enough time to spend with little children with big eyes; but death and our own mortality is certain. I have rock solid confidence that one day you and I will die.

While we might spend this life "making something of it" and connecting with others and having meaningful experiences, we tend to ignore the fact that there is an enemy at work, and his name is Death.

Death does not care who we are, or what we want. Death is not after a ransom or money. Death has a particular set of skills, that he has acquired over a very long career that makes him a nightmare for people like us. He will look for us. He will find us. And he will kill us (yes that was taken from Taken).

Christians are no strangers to death. They hold that their God came down and experienced it first hand and then three days later came out of the grave. I hold that Jesus' resurrection is the nail in the wall in which the painting of Christianity hangs. If His resurrection didn't happen, then all Christians should be pitied and be considered liars (so says the Bible) and Christianity would lay smashed on the floor. If Jesus didn't rise, then we won't either. Jesus' resurrection was the first fruits, we are the rest of the crop. If the crop didn't produce any first fruit, then there isn't much hope for the rest of us.

When someone dies, Christians sometimes throw around the end of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul quotes Hosea:
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting.
But the issue with this is that right now, today, there is a sting, there is a victory. Right now death has come and has taken these people away from us. At every funeral we can see the sting Death has in the tears of the widow and the daughter. We can hear the victory Death has in the voice of the person giving the eulogy. And we too should feel the weight of this. Death may seem natural for a zebra, but it isn't to us. If death was just like gardening or loosing your first tooth, then why is it so sad?

The quoted text above does not stand today. The when and the then of that saying is on the Last Day, when the final enemy, Death, is defeated. On that day Death will not get a resurrection, we will.

Christians may mourn, but they do not mourn with those without hope. Jesus felt the full sting of death and came out the other end. Jesus clothed himself in death, so we can be clothed in life.

It may be Winter, but Spring is coming.

My Bible Study colleague did not get a write up in the paper like the academic, but I know his name is written in the Book of Life. I have rock solid confidence that he and I will rise on the Last Day and walk.

(In this post I leaned a lot on a talk I heard by Jonny Gibson title Courage in Death)


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