Death, Be Not Proud
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” II Corinthians 5:1-4 (NIV)
“What is mortal may be swallowed up by life”?
Being in our mortal body isn’t life? Well, yes, but much like being in the womb is life. Moreover, inhabiting this physical body is a type of womb, also. C.S Lewis termed physical life “The Shadowlands”. Comparing it to fullness of revealed life(when the working out of our salvation is completed), that’s a fair descriptive term for it.
Everybody born of woman knows we all have an outstanding appointment from the day of our physical birth. It is an appointment with God. We generally refer to it as death. Christ lovers and Christ deniers alike have this appointment; however with different results. For the sake of brevity I speak to the lovers of the Savior, the child of God in Christ.
As one being closer to the end than the beginning, in terms of years logged on earth, I have done much thinking about the third phase of life and the transition thereof. With thirty-five plus years of sitting at the Saviors knee gleaning the scriptures and their meaning; how they apply and are woven together. And even as I do that today, ever learning anew, that I may again be reminded how little I really do know. I no longer call death the thing we refer to as death. That transition from primary physical existence to spiritual primacy in the presence of the Savior. Death is merely the corridor, and it may not amount to even that. Who knows? The Lord knows.
The Savior says “fear not” many times throughout the Bible. In fact, He repeats it so often it begins to sound to me like He’s trying to convince a mentally challenged child of a basic truth. But He’s not – even more challenging – He’s speaking to convince me…and you.
When the Lord says “fear not” he’s not trying to trick us, and He’s not telling us to deny an emotion He instilled in us at birth to protect ourselves from physical harm. So there must be another reason.
Might that reason be that we have no need of fear when He’s present? No need of fear, which is one of humanity’s prevailing emotions in alternating greater and lesser degrees through life! And fear of death being at the very top! But yet even about death He says “fear not”. He speaks crazy-talk doesn’t He?! Nope. He speaks of what He knows. He’s been there – He’s conquered it. And He knows that death and fear of death are mere shadows in comparison to the fullness of revealed life.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me..” Psalm 23 verse 4
I don’t know about you, but it helps me boatloads with my fears to know Jesus, the King of Creation, knows by omniscience and by experience, my frailties and what I should and should not fear. And He says I need not fear death. Not because I’m not going to pass through it physically, but because He’s already experienced it and knows I have nothing to fear from the encounter. In fact He promises to accompany me through it while I do it. And I know, by knowledge and experience, that when He promises anything it’s as good as accomplished and finished. And another great thing – we only have to go through it once.
“As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” Heb. 9:27(NKJV)
As there is a “second death” for some (see Rev. 2:11, Rev. 20:6, 14) there is a “second life” for those established in Christ – called the resurrection – the fullness of salvation – the fulfillment of life. The completion of the fullness of revealed life.
“but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:10
Ah, the fulfillment of life! Not the end of life. Bringing life to its fully blossomed glory. It is that which swallows up mortality and all its travails. And death’s power and pride is brought to lowly humiliation as it goes down in defeat.
Blessings in this wonderful day the Lord has made. -g.w