Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How Jesus' resurrection takes the fear out of dying

Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal.— Dr Martin Luther King Jr

O death were is thy sting, O grave were is thy victory?
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Several years ago, I was talking with a friend, and just happened to mention that a famous Broadway producer we met on a cruise had died. My friend looked straight at me and said, "I'm ready." I didn't realize what she meant until a few days later when I received a call that my friend had died. As shocking as the news was, I took comfort in the fact that she didn't fear death. You might say she looked forward to it because she was a Christian.

Christians die like everybody else, and often from all the bad things in this world that kill everybody else. The difference is when Christians die, they know they won't stay dead forever. According to Christian belief, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will never really die. This truth is rooted in God's unshakable promise of eternal life to anyone who accepts his Christ.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
I haven't faced the moment of death personally, but I have been present when others have. You can tell a lot about a person by how they face the moment of death. Their last words, the look on their face say a lot about the kind of life they lived. For instance, some people curse God as they are dying, others make last-minute pleas for forgiveness, which God does honor.

And then, there are the true Christians. You can tell by the radiant look on their faces, as they lay dying, that they must see heaven open up and angels descending to take them home. When my mother died from MS at age 83, she had that look. I was happy for her, and I admit a little envious because I knew without a doubt she was heading for a place where she'd be more alive than she'd ever been in life. For the believer in Christ, death is the fulfillment of this scripture:
And we are not afraid but are quite content to die, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8 TLB
Easter marks a sacred time on the Christian calendar because it symbolizes Christ's victory over death, and by association, the victory of every believing Christian. Essentially, that's what Jesus' resurrection means in a world of believers and non-believers. Refusing to believe doesn't change or negate the reality of what Jesus accomplished. The scriptures tell his story:
Jesus died a physical death on the cross and was raised by God's spirit from the dead. Christ's resurrection is evidenced by the empty tomb in Jerusalem, by the written testimony of his disciples in the Gospels, and by the more than 500 sightings of others who encountered Jesus after his resurrection prior to his ascension into heaven.
What Jesus did made death merely an event, not a dead end. Christ's resurrection took the sting out of death. No wonder Christians don't view death in the same way others do. Christians see death as a home-going. Christian songwriters write songs like Soon and Very SoonI'm Going Away and I Can Only Imagine that celebrate the certainty of an afterlife. Christians know that one day they will see this Jesus, who died not only for their sins, but also for the sins of everyone. No one needs to hold onto a fear of death because Jesus is alive.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 5:1 NLT
This article is dedicated to the family and friends of the 150 people who died tragically in the Germanwings airliner crash (March, 2015).

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