Skip to main content

Is this all there is?

This week has been Dying Awareness Week, a campaign supported, to get people talking and thinking more about death.
Linda Woodhead has commented in theGuardian that “the churches’ hold over birth, marriage and death has weakened dramatically”. Funerals are difficult for everyone, but young people can find them particularly disconcerting. I was standing at the graveside as the coffin of a 21-year-old whose life had been cut short by a particularly vigorous cancer, was lowered. Very quietly, almost under her breath, one of her friends whispered “Is this it? Is this all there is?”
There is nothing like death for focusing the mind on the purpose of life. This is when Christian hope needs to be strongly articulated, not weakened. It is a hope in which we think of time and eternity as largely continuous and, more importantly, as being related to one another as dimensions of reality, both given by God for our existence.
This is not all there is, this material world we see around us.  Indeed, it has a past, a present and a future. But that past, present and future do not stand alone, disconnected.  They stand in close relationship with another life, with eternity, and with death and resurrection. At the centre  of all life is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, an event both in history and transcending history, of such a character as to open up to us the eternal view on the world. And it is from that point of view —namely from eternity — that we want to see everything that happens here on earth. Jesus is the integration point of what has been, what is and what is to come and he is the Way to be followed, not a goal to be achieved.
His death and resurrection become, for Christians, the beginning, centre and end of all our attention.  Here begins, in a way unknown even in earlier Judaism, a story of life being restored, of this life not being the sum total of all there is, of life beyond death.  The eschaton - literally  the last in the series - almost seems to reach back into time and into human history and in Jesus’ resurrection, shows itself for what it is, namely another dimension to things that goes beyond the material and the physical, which actually gives the material new meaning: a richer, deeper texture than it had before. And it was as world changing for the apostles as it is to today.

Tom Torrance put it powerfully in his book Space, Time and Resurrection
He writes: “That God Himself had become man was an offence to the Jew and folly to the Greek; that Jesus Christ rose from the dead was deemed to be utterly incredible. Yet the incarnation and resurrection forced themselves upon the mind of the Church against the grain of people’s convictions, as ultimate events bearing their own intrinsic but shattering claims of the self-evidencing reality and transcendent rationality of God Himself and they took root within the Church only through a seismic restructuring of religious and intellectual belief.”
Strangely, then, the death of Jesus is not the end of all that is, but proves to be the door that opens on to a new realm, a new world, a new dimension, which changes everything that has gone before, and that is and is to come.
Around Easter, we usually remind ourselves that following Jesus means following him on the way to glory and that means via the way of the cross. The redemptive work of the cross requires for us a renewed sense of vocation here and now.
We live the whole of life purposefully and in hope now because of what has been and is to come. “We are but shadows of our future selves,” comments Tom Wright. What answer to “Is this it?” might my young mourner observe if she were to examine the realties of life and death in the shadow in your shoes tonight? How will you take part in the conversations about dying in such a way that not only are we preparing young people for life but also for death?
Ann Holt, Director of External Relations, Bible Society - Evangelical Alliance 


Popular posts from this blog

When God turns a deaf ear on prayers

Does God always hear people’s prayers, or do some pray in vain thinking that God hears them, when in reality He chooses to turn a deaf hear to their cries? Some may perhaps have a notion that all prayers are worthy, and God being who He is is by nature willing to listen and hear their prayers delightfully. They entertain the notion that it is their birth right for God to listen to their prayers and answer them accordingly. Also, there are some who come before the presence of the Lord with severe doubts, defeated by the devils whisper that they are such an unworthy soul that for them to lift up their cries to the Lord is an abomination. They are mute by their own wickedness, depressed and thus fail to pray.

What does the scripture say about God turning a deaf hear to prayers? It is to be said that God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer as He sees fit. He is altogether happy and never backed into a corner, God always does whatever He pleases for He is free to do as He wills…

What does it mean to live a godly life?

If you ever asked yourself the question, what does it mean to live a godly life? and if your not exactly sure what living a godly life involves, this extract taking from Charles Seet book 'A Christian in a non-Christian world' provides ample guidance on just what to do.

Now it is worth asking the question then, 'What does it mean to live godly?' It does not mean that we are just to confine ourselves within a set of rules and regulations. Some people reduce godly living to a list of 'do’s and don'ts.' But the meaning of godly living goes far deeper than that.

Godly living means living in the manner that God wants us to live. It means having the same feelings, attitudes and heart's desires that God has. It means that we love the things that God loves, care for the things that God cares for, and dislike those things which He dislikes. And since God loves righteousness, a godly person also loves righteousness. Since God hates sin, a godly person also hates …

Women of the Bible: Adah and Zillah

The Sin of Adam and Eve resulted in the fall of humanity. Every generation after them became wicked and that is why scripture affirms, ‘that there is no one righteous, no, not even one.’ Mankind became enslave to the passions of its flesh, its desires became its ruler and men followed the natural dictates of their hearts; and were it not for Sovereign grace, the race of men would now only be read of by angels in the library of extinct creatures. Adam and Eve witnessed the consequences of their sin in the death of their beloved son, Abel, by the hands of Cain who murdered his brother in anger and was thus sent away from the presence of God. My dear sisters, sin is not only sin when it is found in its extremes, sin is also sin in its subtlety and vanity. Sin is sin when one's affection is set on another and not on God, when one lives to please a thing or a being which is not God; this is also sin.
This becomes especially evident in the lives of Adah and Zillah the wives of Lamech. Th…