All Posts Tagged: death
“We are saved by grace through faith—a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
“God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Humans were designed to love and be loved! Jesus confirmed this: “Love God … and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
The virus of sin has caused a major malfunction in the human spirit so that we “fall short” of loving God, others and self. We’re dis-eased and the disease is deadly! “We were dead because of our sins….” (Ephesians 2:5) We exist but are unable to fulfill our destiny!
“How helpful it is to see sin, like addictive behavior, as a dis-ease, a very destructive dis-ease instead of merely something that was culpable, punishable, or “made God unhappy,” If sin indeed made God unhappy, it is because God desires nothing more than our happiness. and wills the healing of our dis-ease.” (Breathing Under Water, p xv, Richard Rohr)Though our prognosis is extremely bleak, we’re not hopeless! Father has a medicine to cure our dis-ease.
Blood is red in appearance; yet it contains white blood cells. When your body is under a viral assault, white blood cells attack the virus. However, in gaining victory they die. Healing is won via death!
Father’s medicine is called GRACE: God’s Restoration At Christ Expense! “We are saved (the meaning of this word is “made whole”) by grace….” The old hymn calls it “amazing.” Why? Whereas grace is extremely costly (“You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19), yet, it’s “a gift from God”!
How does one obtain the Medicine Of Life? Jesus said, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” (Mark 2:17)
Have you been to the Doctor yet?
I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in Me will never die. (John 11:25-26)
Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, were close friends of Jesus. “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was for two more days.” By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had died. Martha met Jesus with these words: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” The above words are Jesus’ response.
How shall we understand these words about life and death that seem self-contradictory? The Passion of the Christ, a 2004 epic drama, is the highest grossing R-rated film in America history. In his review, movie critic Roger Ebert wrote, “It is clear that Mel Gibson wanted to make graphic the price that Jesus paid (as Christians believe) when He died for our sins.” Obviously, the price was physical. Physically, death is the beginning of the end: “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). It involves the termination of the physical. The vital signs (BODY temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and blood pressure) “go south”!
However, the physical, though most graphic, is not most fundamental. Listen to Jesus’ words: “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” The core of death is spiritual—spiritual separation from God. It is HELL! Of this the Apostles’ Creed speaks: “Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell.”
Alzheimer’s is a horrifying disease! Debra Dean captures the distressing experience: “She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach.” Death is spiritual Alzheimer’s—separation of the human spirit from the Creator.
Now, Jesus’ words about life and death are crystal clear!
Here’s the most important words: “Those who believe in Me will live.” “During the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965, Ed White became the first American to conduct a spacewalk. He floated outside the capsule attached by an umbilical cord tether providing oxygen and communications from the spacecraft” (NASA). “Jesus said to the fishermen, ‘Come, follow ME!’” (Matthew 4:19). Believing is nothing other than attaching to Jesus, The Life, by the tether of faith. George Müller, a man of great faith, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He once said, “I long for a warm personal attachment to Him.”
“People tethered to God by faith can let themselves go because they know they will get themselves back” (Cornelius Plantings). Are you tethered to Jesus? It’s a life and death matter!
Faith in Jesus makes up the Mechanics of Life.
Elijah (1 Kings 19:3-5)—Terrified, Elijah quickly ran for his life. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life!”
David (Psalm 22:1-2)—My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to You, my God, but You do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Solomon (Ecclesiastes 2:17-20)—This made me hate life. It was depressing to think that everything in this life is useless, like trying to catch the wind. That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth.”
Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:20)—I gave up on life altogether. I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished.”
Paul (2 Corinthians 1:8)—We do not want you to be uninformed about the troubles we experienced in Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.
Elijah, David, Solomon, Jeremiah and Paul—these were heavy hitters in the realm of faith! YET, they experienced and expressed deep emotion! Conclusion: faith and feelings are not mutually exclusive. Emotion is part of the original human package. Look at the Model: “Jesus saw Mary weeping, and He saw how the people with her were weeping also; His heart was touched, and He was deeply moved. ‘Where have you buried Lazarus?’ He asked them. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they answered. Jesus wept” (John 11:30-33).
“To ignore, repress, or dismiss our feelings is to fail to listen to the stirrings of the Spirit within our emotional life. The gospel portrait of the beloved Child of Abba is that of a man exquisitely attuned to His emotions and uninhibited in expressing them. The Son of Man did not scorn or reject feelings as fickle and unreliable. They were sensitive antennae to which He listened carefully and through which He perceived the will of His Father for congruent speech and action.” —Brennan Manning
Here’s practical advice for balancing faith and feelings: “Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may stumble and frequently fall, endure lapses and relapses, get handcuffed to the fleshpots and wander into a far county. Yet, they keep coming back to Jesus” (Manning). Why? “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” —C.S. Lewis
Check back next Friday as we continue our Faith on Fridays series.
Martha, Mary and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus. Lazarus got sick “so the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one You love is sick’” (John 11:3). While Jesus traveled to the home, Lazarus died. Upon arrival Jesus consoled the grieving sisters after which, “still terribly upset, He went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. Martha objected, ‘There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!’” After encouraging Martha, the stone was rolled away. “Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth” (John 11:38-44).
The story illustrates what it means to be “born again”—getting connected to Jesus! Like Lazarus we’re bound and wrapped in death. Furthermore, our spirits have decomposed to such a degree that, to put it bluntly, we stink! Into our darkness, depravity and death Jesus extends an invitation of grace: “COME OUT!”
Lazarus responded to the Word of Life. Slowly shuffling from the tomb, he wobbled his first steps in following Jesus. Note his condition. Lazarus’s spirit was alive but his soul and body were still bound in garments of death, a strange situation. Nonetheless, this is how we all begin following Jesus.
To Nicodemus Jesus said: “You must be born again. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God.” Paul described the born again condition: “Friends, I’m completely frustrated. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast.”
Here’s the point. One is born again upon responding to the call of Jesus. Connection person to Person is established. However, no matter what our chronological age, we are at that point infants in Christ. The best thing one can do is put on a giant Depends, proceed to the bathroom and look in the mirror and say: “This is who I am in Christ!”
“Later, with the help of Bill Hybels I came to a deeper connection with God and my faith in Him. When Lori died [her daughter who committed suicide] my personal relationship with Jesus Christ saved me.” —Carly Fiorina, Rising To The Challenge