Most Americans would prefer to avoid anything to do with dying if at all possible. Yet, it is one of a few life outcomes that no one escapes. My burden as a pastor is that a majority of those that I have the privilege of ministering to are not prepared for it. It grieves my heart when a person fails to estate plan for that day and even more burdensome when they are spiritually unprepared. The Bible has much to say about death, let’s look at a couple realities for the follower of Jesus Christ.
This past Sunday, in a sermon titled “What Am I Living For?” we got a glimpse of the mature follower of Jesus’ response to pending death. I am speaking of course of the Apostle Paul. Our passage from Philippians 1 contains a reminder to those of us that belong to Jesus that our relationship with death is different from those that choose not to have a relationship with Jesus. The main difference is that the believer will transition from living in a temporal world to entering the presence of Jesus. The Apostle reveals this in one short verse, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
What we learn about Paul’s perspective on life is that each day is our opportunity to serve Jesus. That is was he means by saying, “to live is Christ.” Paul embraced the adversity and challenges because it was all part of serving Jesus. But he also knew that to be with the Lord is much better than living in our sin stained temporal world. He expands on his perspective to the church in Corinth. “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,… Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8–9)
Those of us that know Christ might desire, for any number of reasons, to live for as long as we can. But what makes the follower of Jesus’ perspective on death different is that we do not need to fear it. That brings me to a couple practical applications. First, what are you living for? If you are living for yourself, you will never be able to embrace life and ministry the way God intended it to be for his followers. Second, if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, there is nothing to fear, because death is only a transition for you from the temporary to the eternal. And third, if you do not have the assurance that you will go to heaven, or have questions on your relationship with the Lord, do something about it. You might want to reach out to a mature believer or even a Bible teaching pastor for help in understanding the Bible.
Let me leave you with one more verse from Paul’s writing to the Corinthian church. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson