“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.”
– John Donne
Death is an ever pressing reality in our world today. From the war torn Middle East to our home in America, death seems to reign supreme in our world. No one can escape it. Everyone is affected by it. So how should a Christian react to death’s proud presence in our lives? For the Christian, we have a paradoxical view on the realities of death. Paul told the Galatians that, “to die is gain” but the reality is death does not feel like gain. We feel little “gain” when a loved grandparent passes away. We feel little “gain” when thousands are slaughtered in a mass genocide. We feel little “gain” when a small child struggles daily with the pains of death until finally Death overcomes it’s victim. What then should our reaction be? Is this God’s will that Death should viciously take and take, until there is nothing left?
In Genesis 3 we witness an event that would change our world forever. God’s warning to Adam was clear, “the day that you eat of (the fruit) you shall surely die.” The Great Deception of Man not only brought sin into the world, but this event introduced us to our long time enemy Death. Death then is an effect of sin, it is the fruit of a fallen world. The first reaction a Christian should have toward Death is that we should detest it. We should loathe death, and the reality of death should cause us to loathe sin even more. Where there is no sin, there is no death. Death is a constant reminder that we live in a fallen world.
Death has been Conquered:
Death, however, should not cause us to question the Sovereignty of God. God is the Creator, and death is just a creation. Death may be a consequence of man’s sin, but death is limited by God’s grace. It is God’s will that we live in a fallen world, and death comes along with that, but God has not left us to struggle with sin alone. When a Christian is face to face with death, we should hate sin more, but praise God for his graciousness. God is well known for using evil for good, and that’s exactly what he does concerning death. Is God not gracious in taking a Christian early to heaven? When we realize the superiority of being in the continual presents of God, we realize that God uses the horrific reality of death as a tool of grace. God shames death by taking what death has meant for evil and using it for good. We also know that God ultimately defeated death by the cross. The resurrection was God’s confirmation that Jesus has indeed bridged the gap between man and God. Death has been defeated and is now on a timer. When Christ returns to usher in the consummation of his church, death will be done away with for good, sin will be no more, and we will see Christ face to face. This is the reason Paul could say that for him, “to die is gain.” For a Christian, death is just a passage we take to live with Christ forever more. Death leads us on to heaven to see our reward. We should not fear death, but should instead boast in our God who has defeated death.
Jesus is the only ailment to the stings of death:
Still death is a hard pill to swallow. Thank God that he is the Great Comforter. When we experience the stings of death, we must run to our Heavenly Father and be comforted by his great love and grace. We must trust his sovereign choice in death. He is not in a dualistic battle with death. He is all powerful, and his hands are not tied by any created thing. So if we think lightly of God we will think heavily of death, but if we esteem God to his rightful place, and acknowledge that he is God, then the fact that death has been defeated will become a reality in our lives, and we will cast ourselves before our loving Creator, who through his sons’ substitutionary death accomplished our salvation, and worship him.
These realities should cause us to join with John the Apostle who said in Revelation, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.”