Borrowing from a popular song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydrtF45-y-g) :
Let’s talk about death baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about death…..
As it has been said, there are two things that are certain in the human experience: change and death. We have spoken at length about change, but we haven’t spent much time on the topic of death. Death is certain and every day of our lives is a slow (or quick) march toward that death. We cannot avoid it – our own death or the death of those we love and care about. While death is certain, and could simply be viewed as an ordinary part of our human experience, it is also our greatest fear.
As we fear and resist change, so too do we resist and fear death. It may not be death specifically that we fear, but the inability to control, when, how and with how much pain (physical or otherwise) we experience death. We also fear that which comes after death – if anything. And perhaps more than the “if anything” we fear the possibility that this life might be all there is….that there is nothing waiting for us on the other side of death. From a rational, objective, scientific perspective, we have no way to prove what there may or may not be after death. What it there’s nothing!?
Every religious institution has its own beliefs about death and what comes thereafter. Some suggest that this life is all there is. Others preach the ever-evolving wheel of karma and that we return to this life over and over and over until we have worked off that karma so as to earn enlightenment or nirvana. Some suggest the purpose of the human journey is to grow spiritually and that we return until our eternal Soul has completed its growth. Others suggest a place of eternal damnation. Others suggest a place of eternal reward. Some used to suggest there were places in between (limbo or purgatory), but both of these seem to have been eliminated in favor of heaven or hell. Others believe in a hierarchical afterlife where only the very special chosen ones will receive the fullness of the heavenly reward. The beliefs that human beings have developed around the idea of death are endless. No matter which of these is true, we have no control over when death will come for us or how that death will happen (unless it is by our own hand)…..and this scares the hell out of most people.
Until it does not. In the Christian tradition, we are told that Jesus came so as to conquer death…..:
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3: 11-17
God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1: 9-10
…but what was the death that Jesus conquered? Jesus did die…(at least that’s what scripture and Christian doctrine tell us). If Jesus brought eternal life, it is not an eternal life on this human plane. Christianity then goes on to tells us that in his death Jesus guaranteed eternal life for “all who believe in him.” But what about the rest of the world? Are only Christians saved? I very much doubt it. I personally believe we are all saved, but not in the way that has anything to do with a heavenly reward, or lack thereof. Instead, it is not physical death and the “what comes after” that Jesus saves us from. Instead, Jesus came to save us from that which prevents us from LIVING while we are right here, trying to get through this thing called life (Cue Prince). Ironically, the way we make it through this human experience is to face down and move through this which we fear the most – namely death.
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