I’ve been thinking about death. Don’t worry — it’s for a good reason. Isn’t it interesting how we shy away from talking about such a common experience? I suppose it makes sense, since death isn’t a fun topic at the watercooler. I’d rather talk about how sunny it is today and how the Red Wings will be playing in a pizza arena (PizzaPizza). And, when we do hear others talk about death, we think that the bad news of a diagnosis is forthcoming or that they’re depressed. Both of these are real things and deserve our compassion, no doubt. Yesterday Mac and I were at the University of Michigan Clinic to talk about his amazing recovery from craniosynostosis. Spending a few hours in a hospital clinic brought to my mind all that we do to beat back death as the last enemy. Yesterday’s experience plus my line of work (pastoral ministry) brings the seemingly grim topic to mind a bit more than average, I suppose. It’s healthy to talk about death, especially in light of what Christians believe. We are a people of hope who suffer terribly, often in ways that are confusing if not outright frustrating. If God is good, why do bad things happen? One philosopher said that he’s either unable or unwilling to do something. If either of these are true… is He truly God?
All of that is prelude to this idea that I’ve been batting around:
When a believer in Christ dies, do they leave this place or do they leave this time? If the gospel is true (I think it is), we know that they are resurrected to the new heavens and new earth at the end. They live forever in that reality, which is certainly outside of our time. In other words, they don’t leave this place — they just step out of time and immediately step into the promised inheritance that happens to be the new version of here. Our future is their present reality in Christ. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that they leave time, only to be reunited with it when the clock runs out.
For more, see the lectionary reading for this week, especially Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21.