With the recent severe weather, especially the devastating tornado that killed at least 24 and injured more than 200, just south of us, I felt it appropriate that I addressed death and what it means to Christians. Should the Christian community fear death? Should it welcome death? Should it be excited about death?
Allow me to make one thing very clear, no matter how we choose to think about it, we are not immortal or invincible in these current bodies, and it is God alone who currently keeps us alive in these bodies. Not one of us deserves life, yet we are allowed to live. To God, the life of an infant is just as worthy as the life of a child in elementary school. The life of a child is worth as much as the life of an adult. The life of an adult is worth as much as the life of a senior adult. All life is of equal value to God, and we, being God’s people, should also consider all life to be of equal value.
Considering this, let us look to scripture,
“and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless. Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people. We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well.”
Yearning to be home
Paul makes the great statement. We, as God’s people, long to be away from this place, a place that grows more worse with each passing day, and to be home with our Lord. This is a natural longing for each true Christian because each true Christian knows how good it is to retreat from the pursuits of this world and to spend time with the Creator. Our God is good, while this world only tries to be.
This yearning to be home with God seems to be, according to Paul, the foundation of our wanting to please Him. The reason we strive to be better children of God is because we look forward to our one day being with God unhindered by sin’s corruption and absent from everything that is not good. Allow me to challenge you and encourage you here from the very start. If we are not looking forward to our eternal existence with our lord, it will be much more difficult for us not to partake I this thing called sin.
- We should strive for goodness because we long for the goodness of God
- For those of you who do look forward to being home with God, and who do strive to be better each and every day: keep up the good work, you do not strive in vain.
- For those who do not: life is much too sacred not to strive for the greatest life possible. Strive for good and look forward to being home with a good God.
Paul also includes a word for those who do not strive or yearn to be good as God is good. “For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.” We will all be judged by Christ for what we have done, both good and bad.
So, what does death mean for a Christian? It means that, because death exists, there is reason for us to strive to be greater because one day we will leave this body and be home with a perfect God. Until God decides that it is our time to be home, we should always strive to attain perfection, at least in part because we are God’s people.
Even though it is important, our striving for such good on this earth is not our sole aim as Christians. In verse 11, Paul writes that because we know what it is to fear God, namely what we have just discussed, that we try to persuade men to also look to the goodness of God, to claim a home with God and to strive for perfection as well.
Our striving for perfection enables us to represent God to a lost world. We should know how important it is to reach the unreached and to be a missionary, especially in our Jerusalem and in our Judea. For, we were once unreached, and if it were not for some individuals who were striving for God’s perfection and using that as a foundation for persuading men, we may not have yet come to know our Lord, whom we love.
What does death mean for a Christian? Because death exists, it is urgent that we work, by the power of God, to persuade others concerning the faith; because we know God and because as we strive for perfection we know God more and more. Each true Christian is able and prepared to share the Gospel of Christ, to show the love of Christ and to try and persuade others concerning the faith. With the recent tornado, just a few miles from us, we are reminded once again of the urgency of our mission. I hate to think that any one of those fatalities did not know Christ. Since all life is of equal value, I also hate to think of any individual on this planet not knowing Christ and making Him the Lord of his or her life.
- Strive for perfection
- Try to persuade all those connected to us
- Realize the urgency of Christ’s message
As far as the question of death, we are called to sacrificial life in Christ. We must focus on our current work. Death will be allowed to come upon our current bodies when God allows it and we must trust Him with that power. We are to live for today, and plan for tomorrow as if our work in Christ’s gospel will continue.