If you had to die today, what would you want to tell others? What final, significant piece of information would you like to pass on to those who remain? As a parent I frequently consider this, not because I’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but because every day is an opportunity for me to impact not only the lives of my children, but also of everyone I come in contact with.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” (Ephesians 2:14)
So what would I like to say? The answer to that question is that there are a number of facts, all interrelated in one significant way. The common denominator among them all is Christ—specifically that Christ is our peace who has broken down the wall of separation between the holy God, immortal and immemorable, and the sinful, flawed and frail people who inhabit this Earth.
I would like others to understand the truth of the world we live in, that regardless of the distractions and preoccupations it offers, this is God’s game—He created it and as its author set the rules in motion by which it functions. This relates not only to what we call the rules of science, but also to what is right and wrong, and how we as its inhabitants, must conduct ourselves. Others have speculated, “what if…?” but “what if” is irrelevant. The only reality that matters is the one God set up—the one that really exists—and He has told us about it in the Bible.
The next thing that I would like others to get is a better understanding of what’s to come when this life is over, of how real it will be, and how important it is that we live our lives in recognition of this fact. The biggest injustice modern culture has foisted upon us is that it has all but eliminated the concept of fearing anything, least of all God. There are exceptions, of course, but many of us have every conceivable need of ours met way before we even know we have it to the effect that we become wrongly emboldened. We live with a concept of entitlement, and this crosses over into our relationship with God. We feel that we can “claim” forgiveness and salvation, and no longer recognize that not only do we not deserve it, but that it is an incredible mercy on God’s behalf. I Peter 1:13-17 teaches us:
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind [get yourself together], be sober [very serious, not drunk with foolish thinking], and rest your hope fully upon the grace [underserved favor] that is to be brought to you at the revelation [the second coming] of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts [the sinful way you used to live], as in your ignorance [before you knew what God says]; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct [that’s an active command—it requires specific effort and action on our part], [why?] because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality [completely fairly] judges according to each one’s work [He judges according to each one’s work], CONDUCT YOURSELVES throughout the time of your stay here [while we are alive here on Earth in these bodies] IN FEAR.”
A correlary idea that I would like others to realize is that what the Bible calls heaven—the life we hope to have after this one—is so much more than most of us realize. I Corinthians 2:910a says, “’Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” This is not a Muslim “seventy virgins in heaven” afterlife, nor is it a Bob Hope “floating about it the sky on puffy white clouds playing the harp” afterlife, neither of which is Biblical.
Getting to be with God is so significant that Jesus said of those who miss out, “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12b) The exclusion from the presence of God will be of such impact and import that those who are shut out will experience the most profound grief imaginable. The parable of the pearl of great price tells us that we should sell everything we have, if need be, to get it. Yet the paradox is that while fellowship with God is of the utmost significance, if the way we live is any indication of its true value to us, we value that least in this life.
The next thing I would like to pass on to others is more of a question. Why would you want to be with God forever if you don’t want to be with Him now? The truth is that now our perception of the value and pleasure associated with being with God is partially obscured; after death it will no longer be. Yet the question brings the entire issue to light.
The last thing I would like to impress on others is that God is a package deal. You can’t pick and choose which parts you will “accept” and which you will not. Remember that God gets to determine the rules, and the rules are that you either accept His word about our sinfulness, Christ’s righteousness and propitiation for our sins, and the necessity of reading and actively following His Word, or you don’t. I John 3:7-9 says, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins [actively, habitually] is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” Genuine rebirth means we take God seriously and align our lives with the truth we find in His Word.
Thank You that when we believe in You [so as to produce a changed lifestyle aligned with what You command] we are not condemned; that only those who do not believe are condemned because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God, and that this is the condemnation, that You, the light, have come into the world, but people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Help this not describe us! Amen.