Archive for December 2005
‘is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).’One of the tragedies of the human condition is that in our endeavoring to live in denial of death, we have forgotten that which defines the very character of our existence is its end. G.K. Chesterton wrote, ‘The physical fact of death, in a hundred horrid shapes, was more naked and less veiled in times of faith or superstition than in times of science or skepticism. Often it was not merely those who had seen a man die, but those who had seen him rot, who were most certain that he was everlastingly alive (FVF, pg. 175).’
So is it really true then, that in all of our accomplishments and our movement towards progress, we have only managed to be better at hiding death rather than having any impact whatsoever on mortality? It is. We can do nothing to effectually halt the inevitable approach of death. However, in our brilliance and modern facility, we have given ourselves a means to entertain the notion, at least for a short while, that death won’t happen to us. Today we see enough change in one year to fill an entire lifetime of our forefathers. It is almost as if we believe that if we are busy enough we might forget our finiteness, and if we accomplish enough we might earn immortality. It feels almost as though our desires to taste the future are almost granted, and when the truth is revealed in the death of a loved one or friend, we deal with it quickly and move on as fast as we possibly can. When will we stop and consider our own end?
Chesterton continues, ‘Progress, in the good sense, does not consist in looking for direction, unless it be in quite transcendental things, like the love of God. It would be far truer to say that true progress consists in looking for the place where we can stop (FVF, 193).’ It seems, then, that progress, as apposed to the infinite way in which we desire to understand it, aught to lead to an end, where the finite meets the infinite. We often throw about clichés, in which we half-heartedly acknowledge that what we own in the world cannot come with us to the beyond. Yet do we fully comprehend that the very home our soul has known for the extent of our existence will also be left behind? No gold will earn you eternity, nor will any foot take you there, but the soul must submit and be drawn by God. This is humbling, if not for many, humiliating. How then do we prepare? How will any hope to face God unashamed?
The Word of God declares that those who are in Christ are justified, clothed in white, and without shame. Christ calls us to die now that we may truly live in Him, meaning that the only preparation available to that finality is in welcoming it now! When we make the inevitable transition from this life to eternity, we bring nothing, if not brokenness, before God. There is no accomplishment, nor any words that can be spoken, that God has not exceeded in His very being. Thus all that we are that is not of Him will be humiliated; every measure of progress in the world will cease to have meaning, and all that He is will define eternity.