In the beginning of the course, we posed the question:
In light of what we have covered in the past few weeks, we need to reconsider this question with the seriousness that it deserves.
When we do so, we are faced with
the reality of our mortality.
There are two events in life common to every man:
Yet we experience death as shocking and unnatural.
A philosopher once wrote that the one constant in life is death. The horizon of death colors all that we do in life.
If death is indeed the most natural thing,
the one constant in life,
Children learn at a young age that all people die.
Yet when we find ourselves sitting by the bedside of a loved one who crosses that mysterious line from the living to the dead, we experience it as an offense;
Our deepest intuition tells us that this is not how it’s supposed to be;
Have you experienced this bewilderment of death in your life? How did you feel?
there is a part of us that cries out for continuity beyond the grave.
Death hits us as such an offense because there is a
During our quiet moments, we sometimes sense traces of our own transcendence almost as if we have a mysterious memory of having been originally created to be eternal.
Perhaps all of this is because the Bible is right when it records that death was not part of the original design.
Having cut ourselves away from God, we spend the majority of our waking hours pursuing ornaments to put on our Christmas tree lives.
Hurried along by the rush of time, we hardly have the chance to stop and consider,
When faced with death, however, all the false things we chase after in this world fade away and the one thing that brings meaning to life is unveiled.
Imagine the ridiculousness of a person who asks to see his degrees and bank statements for one last time on his deathbed because he'll miss them so much.
The reality is that when the time comes for us to breathe our last, we grieve for the love, not the possessions, we leave behind.
Yet the human predicament is that just when we try to hold onto love, death denies us the “happily ever after” that should surely follow.
Love in this world seems hopelessly coupled with tragedy because it is so easily defeated. Love inherently demands “forever,” and all relationships seem to have a built-in requirement that they endure.
It appears as yet another sign of fallenness that all our relationships are either ruptured by sin or severed by death.
This is why the Bible calls death the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Death was not part of God's design. Death entered as a consequence of sin, and it comes as an intruder into the circle of our families and friendships, putting an end to those relationships.
In light of the love of God that overcomes death, Jesus' mission on earth takes on a deeper, more personal meaning. Ever since the Fall, mankind has been going in a downward spiral toward death and decay.
And just when we have lost all hope and strength, Jesus comes and resurrects, reversing the power of death. Jesus starts an upward spiral toward heaven, and all those who choose to trust him will share in this triumph as Jesus unites his destiny with ours.
Instead, it's a never-ending love story with God.
However, that is not the end, because at this point there's another whole story,
We can be comforted by this promise of God – the promise sealed with his own blood – that he will take us into his embrace no matter what happens.
Jesus’ resurrection becomes the “firstfruit” of our own resurrection. His resurrection issues a wonderful promise that we will likewise resurrect to be united with God.
Many experience the future with anxiety. But to Christians, the future isn't a rapidly closing window to be grasped and squeezed for all its worth.
Scroll to open the door and see what promises are fulfilled in heaven.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Ultimately, our love story with God is continued in heaven. Jesus said that he is going to prepare a place for us, so that we can be where he is.
The event of the resurrection is
of eternal dwelling with God in heaven.
The image of baby angels flying around playing harps is a popular, but unbiblical, imagery that we have from old religious paintings. Parents experience a little bit of heaven every time they stare into the face of their child. They can stare into that face for hours, and it seems like only a couple of minutes.
Love seems to take us out of time. Heaven is like that.
The problem is that we have been worshipping degraded, cheap things for so long that
So when we try to conceive of heaven, we think of it in terms of its absences.
C.S. Lewis said we're like a country boy who would prefer going on making mudpies in the dirt because he can't understand what is meant by the offer of a vacation by the sea.
An invitation to follow Jesus is basically an invitation to a relationship of trust and allegiance to Christ. It is an invitation to lose ourselves in love for Jesus, and ironically, in so doing, we find ourselves.
Jesus is imploring us to let go of the tiring grasp we have on our lives that is causing us to bend forever inward. Instead, he calls us to experience life as it was meant to be lived.
So many people, especially those who have successfully avoided failing their entire lives, are afraid of “failure” as a Christian. But that would be missing the point.
We become Christians because we are fully acknowledging that we are sinners, and that means that we will fail. But of course that’s the case with anything worthwhile (e.g., marriage and child-rearing).
However, we are not left to our own efforts when we walk with Jesus.
“Fear not” is the command most often stated in the entire Bible.
We can understand why: because to respond to the Living, Almighty God is terrifying. You might have initially approached this course with nothing more than a light curiosity, and perhaps you’ve been surprised to find many of your questions answered. Perhaps you’ve been disturbed by the truthfulness of the gospel. This can sometimes feel a little startling.
God, whose presence we are terrified by and attracted to, comes with an invitation of reconciliation and love.