Lately, I have reflected on my own mortality. I have served in my current ministry context for just over four months, during which time I have preached two funerals and attended a third. I have reflected much on the brevity of life. I have also seen the goodness of God during some discouraging days.
Death invokes several emotions including sadness, anger, and even thoughtfulness. We should not live impulsively based on whatever emotion we feel in a moment. We should ground our lives in objective truth, which I believe is found in the metanarrative of Scripture. Even so, it is appropriate and normal for us to feel an assortment of emotions at a memorial service. Recently I have felt sadness and thoughtfulness in the three funeral services I have participated in or attended.
I felt sad over a son, daughter, and husband who lost their otherwise healthy mother and wife following a surgical procedure. I felt sad over a 91-year-old church member and long-standing member of the community who began his heavenly journey a mere two weeks after I spoke with him at our local Burger King.
I have also felt thoughtful, which is connected to the emotion peaceful. I know it might occur odd to my readers that I have felt peaceful during these funeral services I have attended. Let me explain what I mean. When I look at the faces of those grieving because of death, I think about the preciousness of life. I think about my need to surrender my all to God today, because tomorrow may not come. I think about my need to repent and confess any unholy or unhealthy patterns. I am at peace because God is in control even when I am not.
Even in death, Christians have hope. Christians believe that these mortal bodies will be exchanged for new immortal bodies at death and ultimately at Jesus’ return. The apostle Paul teaches about mortality and immortality in 1 Corinthians 15:53-57. (NKJV)
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where [is] your sting? O Hades, where [is] your victory?” 56 The sting of death [is] sin, and the strength of sin [is] the law. 57 But thanks [be] to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Buddhism teaches reincarnation and Islam teaches about paradise, but followers of neither faith group have an assurance of final salvation. Christianity teaches that those who trust Jesus as Lord and Savior will have a home in heaven based exclusively on faith in Christ’s atonement. Christians also affirm a bodily resurrection of the regenerate at the return of King Jesus. Lines 6-12 (line 11 in particular) of the Apostle’s Creed articulate the historic Christian position on the bodily resurrection.
- He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
- From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
- I believe in the Holy Ghost:
- I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
- The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
- And the life everlasting. Amen.
While I have reflected on my own mortality, I have also reflected on Christian hope. Christian hope centers not on a fairy tale or wish dream, but on the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Death stings on this side of eternity yet death does not get the last word for all who are in Christ through faith. Scripture promises that Christians will exchange mortality for immortality in the final resurrection.
In summary, I have considered four truths in a reflection of human mortality:
- Life is short. Cherish every moment you have with those you love.
- We are not promised tomorrow. Seek God while it is today. Walk with Him while you have the opportunity.
- Death is painful. In our pain, though, God is molding us into the image of Christ.
- People come together in strange ways when there is a death. I was intrigued by the number of people rallying in support of the families in all three funerals I’ve attended in the last four months. At the end of the day, we are all just people. We need each other and God to make it through life in a sin-stricken world.
Reader, I trust this post will encourage you. I hope it also helps you reflect on your mortality. You can live eternally through faith in God’s Messiah. Belief in the Messiah guarantees your future immortality. Rejection of Jesus excludes you from eternal life. (John 3:36)
C. T. Studd once said, “Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”