Words to Die By
Rev. David Holden, Good Shepherd Community Church
Canadians hate the thought of death. We spend billions of dollars on health, care, vitamins, diets and exercise equipment. We no longer bury our dead next to the church, but in a serene pastoral setting called a cemetery, often hidden behind high walls and shrubbery. This ensures that the awful reality contained under grave stones and in mausoleums is not seen by passersby.
In the past the average life expectancy was short; people could not escape the reality of death. People did not die in the sterile environment of a hospital or nursing care. People died at home or on the streets. There were no paramedics or emergency medical care. People knew the smell of death. They saw firsthand the reality of the fall of the human race into sin. They couldn't hide from death like we do. Death was common and visible.
In the face of death, what is it that a Christian needs to know so that we don't live in despair or without hope? We need to know that we are not our own, that we belong to Christ, who has purchased us with His own blood. Knowing this enables us to live in light of the fact that when we die, that one who conquered death and the grave did so for us.
Christ has paid for my sins (not some of them, but all of them) so that on the day of judgment, I need not fear the wrath of God. Christ was faithful, so that when I am not, God will look upon Christ's obedience, not my disobedience. Christ has redeemed us from the Devil, so that I don't fear those things that supposedly come about through the wiles of Satan, when instead, whatever happens comes about through the power of Christ in the providence of God. Because of Christ's work as redeemer, I know that whatever happens to
me — whether I live or die — comes about as God's means of saving me from my sins, finally bringing me into His presence.
Christ gives to me His blessed Holy Spirit who assures me that I am Christ's and that His saving benefits have been applied to me. He gives me hope and confidence in the face of death so that I can live a life of gratitude before God for all that Christ has done for me. Someone who knows what Christ has done for him will live confidently in the present, because he knows his eternal destiny is tied to Christ's victory over death and the grave.
While Canadians hate death and many do all they can to hide from it, death is inevitable – the mortality rate in Canada is still 100%. Barring the return of Christ, everyone reading this will die no matter what the quality of your healthcare, and despite the advances in medicine. The question remains, "Until death comes, will you live in the comfort of Christ's death and resurrection, or will you live in fear, not knowing what will happen when you face God on the day of judgment?"
We need to direct our attention away from our fears to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer to whom we now belong. Once we realize that we are not our own, the fear of death will give way to the comfort of the gospel. These are words to live by. These are words to die by.