Monday, 18 December 2017

Eternal life is still very much a reality

A LOT has been written about death, and its inevitability.

A LOT has been written about death, and its inevitability.

“Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1789.

And in his own, inimitable way, Hollywood film director Woody Allen summed up the feelings of many of us when he said: “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

We all know from a young age that death is inevitable but we pay little heed to it until it touches us in a personal way.

Death recently touched my own family when my father died a few weeks ago.

The parting was painful. But at least we had been able to say our goodbyes in the familiar surroundings of mum and dad’s home.

As mum and I spent some time with dad while waiting for his body to be removed, we asked one another, “Is this it? Is this our final destiny?”

Dad’s body was still with us but the spirit that made dad the person he was was gone.

It was the way he related to those around him as much as his physical appearance that defined who he was.

His love, care and compassion, and the way he worked hard to give us opportunities he’d never had himself, made him the husband and father we loved.

As we stood looking at dad, we understood why civilizations all around the world have a sense of the spiritual and do not consider death the end.

But is our Western society, with its cult of the individual and its obsession with material wealth, becoming too arrogant to accept the possibility of life after death?

The Christian faith revolves around the death of a man 2,000 years ago, a man who was executed and whose friends ran away and even denied that they knew him.

How could it be possible that if death is the end, these friends were transformed and went about preaching the message, “Christ crucified is God’s power and wisdom”?

They were so certain of the truth they were proclaiming they were prepared to suffer and die for it.

Proclaiming a dead man as the son of God does not seem the best way to gather people to a cause. Yet history has vindicated them.

The only explanation is that they encountered the risen Jesus and that the true destiny of mankind was fully revealed — namely, that we are invited to follow Jesus and one day rise and share eternal life with him.

Believing in the resurrection of the dead does not lessen the pain when a loved one dies, but gives us the hope of being reunited.

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