Our behaviour is often driven by unconscious beliefs, feelings and fears. Most psychologists would agree that most of the time these beliefs, feelings and fears are related to death itself. We make use of denial to keep death at a distance, but it is really closer than we would want to admit. The frightening reality is that there is not a lot between life and death. We could cross over any second. There are enumerable things that can happen at any time that could lead to our death and we only realise this when death has come close to us. See how our behaviour and priorities change when someone close to us dies and we have spent a few seconds staring at the inside of a grave at the funeral.
We spend a lot of time and effort that is related to death and we don’t necessarily realise this. Our brains are mainly wired for two things: avoiding harm; seeking reward. Think of all the insurance, the safety measures related to traffic and to the work place. What does your anxiety towards a snake, social scrutiny, to panic attacks, to heights, to your health or to your money represent? They all remind us of the possibility of losing control, of suffering and of the possibility of death. Our earthly goals are not always directly related to avoiding death, but rather to pursue things like money, comfort, love and success. These things add a measure of hope though we are hardly ever aware of where this vague need for hope comes from, until life happens, we are stripped from all of our ‘crutches’ and we hang by a very thin thread in the galaxy of meaninglessness. Also called and ‘existential crisis’.
The flesh (our biology) is naturally wired to live and maintain life. Therefore, it flows naturally that we become fearful, selfish, self-righteous and addicted when death is unconquerable. It makes biologically sense. It is a survival reaction. The reality of death is a breeding ground for perpetual sin in our lives. Our flesh is as much a result of death as it is vice versa. To conquer death is to conquer sin and vice versa. But what if death loses its sting…if we no longer live to save what we cannot lose, would all these things not lose their grip on our lives? Would we not live boldly, joyfully, with hope and with love even in the face of death and in the midst of suffering?
There is a fascinating group of people that lived in the first four or five centuries A.D. that seemed to be unafraid of death. They were killed together with their spouses and children by the Roman Empire. All they needed to do to avoid this was to return a bunch of papers and stop telling others about what was written on it. They heard and read about the Man from Galilee that rose from the dead. Jesus lives. And this made all the difference in their lives. It changed they way they worked, did business, relate with others and the way they viewed life and death. What is so valuable about this?
If He lives, then the rest of the things He told His disciples is probably also true – of which the most important is that, firstly, sin is forgiven, secondly, that He would send His Spirit to guide them, comfort them and remind them of His words; and, thirdly, that death is not the end. This significantly affects life – life before death, even more than life after death. The domino effect of death conquered is life changed, radically – lives that live today!
Jesus lives. There were families that gave their lives so you would know this. So…what if He lives? How does your next step, next word, next project, next business deal, change? What does a life look like that received grace, received God’s Spirit and that doesn’t end?
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He livesGloria Gaither / William J. Gaither