2018-08-23 - Hope in a Dark Time
Originally Published 2000-09-21
Rom 8:10-11 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. (NAS)
There have been several deaths in the families of friends and co-workers around me lately. One man lost his father after a long illness. Another lost her mother suddenly and unexpectedly. The elderly mother of the CEO of my company is very frail and not expected to live to the end of the year. The common thread in all these cases is the human mortality.
If we look at death from a physical perspective, it would be very easy to understand that lives end at the point of death. If we deny faith and things that we can not see and touch, then the grave is the end. All our secrets and failures would quietly fade from the scene as we decayed and merged with the elements.
We would quietly escape from our wrongs. If we managed to keep something a secret, an affair or a theft, it would go unnoticed. If death is the end, then mankind is truly the top of the evolutionary heap and we are the measure of all things. There is no one else to be accountable to for our actions. Giving can be done when it is a convenient tax deduction, instead of looking for someone in need. The motivation to be 'good' must come from within ourselves, where Jesus told us that the heart is wicked and no one could know the depth of that wickedness.
It strikes me as a very proud and arrogant statement for any species or race to make. It is one thing to believe that you could be better than anyone else. But it is the height of hubris to speak it as proven fact when the universe lies unexplored, and in the face of the myriad of things that we still do not understand around us.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ( NAS)
Through the eyes of faith, we see the power of life that persists beyond this mortal body. Jesus promised the thief on the cross next to Him that the common thief, because of his faith, would be with Christ that day in paradise. The accountability, balances of good and bad that so many fear if God is real, dissolve in the face of His forgiveness. Yes, there will be accountability, but for the believer in Christ, this accountability will not be unto the second death - eternal punishment. The promise to all who have the trembling faith of the thief on the cross have the promise of eternal life. The common thread in these cases is eternal.
All of us will live forever, for good or for ill. There is no comforting curtain of death to hide us from God. When death is faced with faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, there is no need to hide from God. The time when we will meet Him face to face is a time to look forward to with anticipation and expectation.
What view of life would you want to carry to these people who have just lost loved ones? This is a time when their own mortality is very clear to them. It is a time when they ask questions like, "Is there more than this life?" "Where is my friend?" "What will happen to me when I die?" Our hope is not a maybe this will happen hope. It is hope that anticipates something that will happen and we wait eagerly to see that hope. It is a blazing, white-hot star in the stark, black sky of despair. A card, a note or a kind word covered in prayer could open a door for a conversation where questions can be asked. Our faith and the eternal hope that we have are two of the treasures that Jesus has placed in us to give to the world. There is hope and power for the seeker if we will share it with them.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. (NAS)
Lord Jesus - we hold Your treasure, not made of stone, but made of faith and hope. In these very dark times we can be lights that lead others home to You. Give us the courage to burn brightly for You. Amen.
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.