I’m fairly certain than in the past 5 years no less than six hundred and four thousand movies have been made about someone who gets a shortened expectancy for life and starts to live all crazy and fun and meaningful all of a sudden. (My personal favorite of course, being “Last Holiday” starring Queen Latifah.)
The reason this story line will continue to be told over and over again is because it contains a two pretty basic truths about life: 1.) You are going to die someday and 2.) Most people live in a passionless, meaningless way and it takes their own sure and certain death to wake them up to that fact.
Go read Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
<> What seemingly insane claims does Solomon make in the first two verses?
<> Can you think of a time in your life when a sad face was good for your heart?
<> Why are the wise found in the house of mourning?
While these statements sound a little crazy, think back to our movie phenomena. How many people will never really start living until faced with their own death. I think we are too afraid to think on death. Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest American theologians to ever live would regularly spend time in cemeteries where he would consider his death and the end of men’s lives that had gone before him. He wasn’t a morbid gothic, emo kid. But regularly considering the end of his life fueled the way he spent his moments here on this earth.
Go read Philippians 1:21-26.
Paul was not afraid to think about his own death. In fact, it seems like he was looking forward to it! That really doesn’t fit very well into our American thinking that goes something like this: I want maximum pleasure for minimum pain and I want it now! Also, I want God to fit into those goals in some way that guarantees me a godly spouse someday. Also I want both of my twix bars and you can’t have one.
<> According to vs. 23 what is Paul’s hope in death?
<> When someone is not afraid of death, how hard is it to steal his joy?
<> How often do you think about your own death? What are your thoughts?
The key to understanding “to die is gain” is walking out “to live is Christ”. Too many of us have a theological belief that when we die we go to heaven but our fear of death reveals 1.) that we don’t really believe that too strongly and 2.) that we think the stuff we’re experiencing here on earth is BETTER than being with Christ intimately. The problem is even with all the intimate pursuit of Jesus that can be found here on this earth, it is always incomplete. Our sinful flesh still shows up and destroys our communion with our Savior. That’s going to end someday and it’s going to be a GOOD thing.
The Movie Fallacy
But, the light bulb does not just switch on when you are about to die. What you value now is what you will value as you approach your death. If the most important thing to you is knowing Jesus, then death becomes a looked-forward-to removal of obstacles. If physical pleasure and the pursuit of money and selfish desires are your passions now, that’s not going to change when you find out that you have stage-two stomach cancer someday.
<> What do your thoughts on death reveal about your desire to know Jesus?
<> Are you living now in a way to prepare for your sure and certain death?
As Christians, there is no fear in death. It’s an upgrade. When we start to embrace that, we’re going to become dangerously joyful. It could radically impact the way we live, and the way we love and how we spend our everyday. The joy in death is not that we get heaven, but that then as now, we get Jesus. Bring it on reaper.