In the last couple of days I have been finding it hard to concentrate on my work because as I sit here I find I am constantly thinking about the passing of apologist Ravi Zacharias.
I am sure that many will have heard of Ravi and be familiar with his ministry, and others will not have. His life was given over to explaining and arguing the Christian faith and he spoke to many hundreds of thousands of people about the gospel, yet there are many millions who will have never heard of him.
No matter who we are or how famous we think we are, we are but a drop in the ocean of humanity who are careering headlong towards oblivion and darkness without Christ. Death is the one certainty we must all face, it is as has been described “the final enemy” – a description taken from 1 Corinthians 15:26.
Your BELIEF in what does or doesn’t happen after death will not affect one iota what ACTUALLY happens (or not). You can be as adamant an atheist as they come and it will have no effect at all on whether God exists or not. But you will still have to face the inevitability of death – whether you are right or wrong in your belief (sorry – LACK of belief) you still lose – you die.
Atheism and materialism has so influenced our secular society to the point that for most people there is no belief in anything beyond death. Yet so many people are terrified of it and our confusion over death I suggest displays a weird dichotomy in it’s attitude towards “end of life” which is at best inconsistent and at worst completely hypocritical.
On the one hand, medical practitioners take such extreme action at times that often I think they don’t prolong life, they merely delay death. We spend many billions of pounds every year on different drugs, machines and procedures for those who are fighting death. Any action at all it seems is ok if it gives someone a few more months, weeks, days or even hours. The death penalty was (in my opinion rightly) abolished decades ago partly because of a regard for human life – even a guilty one. Something in us makes us understand the inherent value of human life and we sense something is deeply wrong when it is taken away. So much so that when Kirk Douglas died recently, I saw a media report it as “too early” – he was 103!.
On the other hand, society is hurtling towards a total disregard for human life. We already kill in the UK over 200,000 unborn children every year, and I have seen attempts to normalise voluntary euthanasia so that people don’t have to travel abroad to kill themselves legally. The conflicts and ideologies of the 20th century between them have killed more human beings that in all the centuries which have gone before added together.
Discarding the Christian faith does not eliminate fear of death, if anything, it increases it whilst at the same time destroying hope and comfort in the face of it, thankfully, those who still believe in Jesus “do not grieve like those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
That’s the bad news, the good news is this: for the Christian, death is NOT the end, we believe that our Lord won the victory over death so that Paul can quote Hosea and we can say along with them both:
1 Corinthians 15:55 — “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Have you ever thought about your own death? Many would agree with Woody Allen who famously said “I’m not frightened of dying – I just don’t want to be there when it happens” (Spike Milligan apparently said something very similar), the problem is that this is not an option. No matter your age, gender (self identified or otherwise), your sexual proclivities, your ethnic background or origin (I refuse to use the term race as there is only ONE human race), your economic status, or any of the other of the arbitrary categories we use to divide people, every single one of us will, one day, die. Death has been described as the perfect statistic – 100% “success” rate = 1 in 1 people living now WILL die at some point.
The question we all must answer for ourselves ultimately is this one … given that along with every human being on planet earth I am going to die, am I prepared to reject Jesus Christ and risk my eternity, or will I trust in Him and choose life – abundant life here and now and everlasting life AFTER death takes me?