Easter Sunday 2016
When I was in college I read a most fascinating book called The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. It was an eye-opening that I have kept over the decades. His thesis is that many people go through life in effect walking backwards: not facing the reality of death because there is a fear that perhaps there is nothing beyond this life. The problem with this world-view is that there really is a destination at the end of this life, not an end. This is a temporary world where we are here to make eternal choices, and also to make a difference in the lives of others. We are, in fact, already living in eternity: it is just a question of where we are choosing to go and who will be our guide. As Christians, our only guide is Jesus Christ, through whom everything was created, is sustained, and has been forever redeemed.
The way the “denial of death” plays out in our society is that many try to look as youthful as possible for as long as possible; and, if one speaks about death at all, it is couched in euphemisms such as “passing away”. Then the dead are made up to look as good as possible in the casket (if there is one at all). But, if there really is life after death, then every moment in my life counts. God has given me a mission to fulfill.
Life is so full of opportunities to glorify God and prepare for eternity. Life is in fact a big test: it is all about making a choice for God in each circumstance of our daily lives. Along the way the Lord will give us many signs of his presence if we are open to hearing him speak.
The evidence for life after death is overwhelming! But the Lord wants us to make a free choice for him, so he makes it possible to live on earth without perceiving him, if that were possible. To say that the world we live in, our own human brains (the most complex structure in the universe we have yet discovered), and all the rest put itself together without any designer after 12 billion years takes more faith than belief in God does. In essence, it is like persons who finds themselves on a 747 in mid-flight and think that the structure had no designer and builder, but that it all constructed itself without a plan. It’s not logical, but God allows us to believe this if we choose to.
Rather than walking backwards into the future without a plan or hope, through the gospels and the church, Christ will guide us so we need not fear the future or the world to come. Instead, we can so live our lives of faith and service so as to be ready and expecting to meet Christ when our lives are over, healed and our mission in life fulfilled!