Death happens! It is part of life. The question becomes what do we do when it happens, and even more importantly what do we do before it happens? Because we are in ministry my husband and I are probably around death more often than most people. When we are with older people who are naturally closer to death than us because of age we have shared the hope we all have in Jesus and how eager we are to meet the Lord when it is our time to die. The usual reply is that we can say that now but it will be different when we are elderly or actually faced with death. Every time I hear that response it makes me wonder why Christian people feel this way and if it will happen to me. But rather than wait until my time of death to find out I thought I should just go ahead and seek the Lord now while it is still today because I believe in the depth of my being that when it is our time to die we are supposed to be eager, unafraid, expectant, and desirous to finally meet the Jesus we have worshipped from afar our entire lives. I also believe people around us should share in the same expectancy, grieving because we have hope!
But, let me emphatically assert this is not about who can be first to get to heaven or about leaving earth any sooner than our appointed time through suicide or giving up on life. Living as a child of God is truly a blessing and we are given the privilege of laboring and fruit bearing as long as we have breath. But at the same time, we should embrace what God has for us when He has it ready for each of us, whether that is life or death. When death is viewed from heaven’s perspective rather than from our limited earthly one we will be ready at any age to accept and yes, desire what God is doing!
Part of embracing death comes from understanding ourselves and how God created us from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
You may have heard the expression that “knowledge is power”. There is some truth to that especially if it is the knowledge of God. When we know our bodies were created as temporary dwellings and then earnestly desire a permanent one we will not lose heart as our bodies give way to the demands of this world. Of course we must care for our body because it houses our spirits and souls, but we also recognize its limit and take heart knowing that though it slowly expires, our inward self is being renewed every day. Now that knowledge IS powerful!
In terms of eternity the actual amount of time we reside in these bodies is a “moment”. Think on that for a moment! And then think on the fact that everything we face in this lifetime is “light affliction” compared to the weightiness of the glory we will possess in our new homes (bodies). I love the thought of being weighed down in God’s glory! It helps me to persevere in anything and everything I go through here on earth knowing it is merely a light affliction no matter how heavy it seems to me and no matter if I understand it or not. These light afflictions serve the purpose of working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. In order to cooperate with God in these afflictions we must live with a heavenly mindset because then the scenery of life changes and we “look” at things we cannot see.
Yes, beloved people, we can “look” at unseen things! That sounds like an oxymoron but the truth is through eyes of faith we can refuse to look at things which can be seen and choose to look at those things we cannot see because looking and seeing are not the same thing. Seeing refers to viewing or watching something and having vision, comprehension, realization, or perception of something. But looking refers to directing our eyes toward something, using our eyes to search something out specifically and then considering and paying attention to that which we look for. We see everything but we choose to look at specific things. As Christians, we may “see” Jesus Christ and the truths revealed to us in His Word through eyes of faith and we also “see” all the worldly things that would draw us away from those truths or speak otherwise. But then we must choose to “look” at Jesus and His truths which are unseen because these are eternal. We choose not to “look” at all the things that are seen outside of Jesus and His Word, things contrary to Him, things that are temporary. In other words we LOOK from a heavenly perspective even though we SEE from an earthly one and we are in control of what and how we “see” and “look”. We are not to lose heart even though we see our outward bodies aging and dying because we should be looking at our inward being, our spirit man, which is being renewed day by day, preparing us for our glorious body. We capture this astounding truth about our bodies in 2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
This earthly house and tent is our body. Take a moment and let this simple truth sink in. On earth we exist as spirit, soul, and body. Just as God is three persons in one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we are three parts in one person – Spirit, Soul, and Body. All three are critical components, intricately woven together in our mother’s wombs by our heavenly Father. Unlike God who is eternal in all respects, there is only one part of us which lives eternally in heaven or hell; our spirit. Our spirit and soul are housed in a tent we call “our body” which will be destroyed. By using the analogy of a house AND a tent we are reminded of our vulnerability AND yet our ability to be firmly grounded in Christ Jesus. A tent can be easily uprooted and destroyed since it is only held in place by stakes and has no foundation. Tents leak, tear, and decay. In other words they do not last forever. Houses too are temporary and in continual need of repair, cleaning, refreshing, and renewing, but at least they have a foundation making their occupancy a bit more permanent for earthly residence.
Therefore, though our spirits are eternal, our bodies are like tents and houses. They will not last forever; they leak, tear, decay, and are in continual need of cleansing and renewal but….they are extremely useful because they house our souls and spirits and we have the ability to build a strong foundation in Jesus Christ while residing in these bodies.
This Scripture points out the obvious truth every Christian should know and believe. “FOR WE KNOW” that IF our bodies are destroyed we receive a far better body, a building from God. With this knowledge in hand we can eagerly anticipate our eternal body which does not leak, tear, decay, or have need of constant care. Rather than focusing on the mortal body in death, let us focus on the new house or body we shall reside in which is eternal.
The next time the subject of death comes up in conversation eagerly share the hope we have in Jesus! Spend your time looking at what is unseen knowing the result is eternal. Do not lose heart when your body is perishing! Remember – a house is being made in heaven for eternity that is not made with hands. Know your spirit is being renewed day by day! Get excited for true life! Share the result of death with others, knowing there is life when these bodies are destroyed. And while you are here – live! Bear fruit! Learn and grow! Share Jesus! Prepare for real life today!!!!