Today was a long day. It began with a phone call to a father who sobbed over the phone as we disguised final funeral arrangements. His 17 year old son passed away a few days earlier. I met Mitch back in January when he started attending our church. He wanted the Bible’s answers to tough questions. One of those questions is “What happens when we die.” Unlike the rest of us who may wonder about that issue, but feel like it is forever away, Mitch had a sense of urgency to find the answers.
Two weeks ago, I had an atheist friend on stage with me at church discussing the differing views of death and dying. We looked at atheism’s answer to “Why suffer occurs” vs Hinduism vs Jesus. When you see a young life snuffed out, you hunger for answers. I shared the options.
If Atheism is correct, the answer to the question of “Why Cancer, and Why Him…” is painfully hopeless. In the words of Richard Dawkins, “DNA neither knows nor cares and we dance to it’s music. In a world of blind random chance, somebody’s bound to get hurt.” If that answer doesn’t leave you empty, angry, and hopeless, I’m not sure what would be worse. Atheism critiques the problem of evil while offering us the worst possible alternative. Evolution triumphs death as the catalyst to our evolution. Death and suffering is the hero of natural selection and the way we move forward in our evolution. We die… The next generation learns from it. We get better. Christianity says, “NONSENSE! Death is not normal or natural. Death is the enemy!”
Christ’s teaching explains the problem of evil, calls it abnormal and wrong, and offers a solution. The Bible says we were made for a world without pain and suffering. The echo of that world is still etched on our hearts. That is why we grieve. That’s why we say, “IT shouldn’t be this way…” We are comparing this broken world to it’s original blueprint still etched on our hearts. The Bible says evil is a result of two things: A broken creation and free will. Christianity also offers hope that God will one day fix this world. Wipe away ever tear. Restore broken bodies. This hope can be rubbed into our grief so we grieve with hope. The hope of seeing our son and daughter again. The hope that a body with cancer on earth is replaced with a REAL body without cancer or pain in heaven.
What happens when we die? IF Charles Darwin was right, we ROT TO DEATH and all we have are memories that live on. And honestly, about a month after our funeral, most people will move on and barely remember us. If Gandhi was right, we RECYCLE into energy. We are not unique individuals, but energy that is scattered into the universe (a tree, a rabbit, a mosquito). We will never ever see our loved ones again, because they don’t exist in one place or one form. If King Tut was right, we REMAIN the same. We go into the next life with the same problems and ailments as this life. Eqyptian tombs are filled with medicines and walking canes since you have the same diseases and pains in the next life as this one. BUT… If Jesus was right, there is hope. Real historic hope. We RESURRECT to life. We get real, healed, fixed, fully restored bodies in Heaven. No more cancer. No more alzheimers. No more pain. No more tears. We know we can and will see our loved ones again. For anyone that trusts Christ to defeat death, this is the confident future.
This is not wishful thinking. This is not a fairy tale. This is a fixed hope locked on the historic FACTS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ confirmed by archeology, history, and external evidence. We could trust our good works to defeat death, but they are woefully inadequate. The Grim Reaper is only terrified by the ONE who crushed him.
I told my wife that I’d like to officiate my own funeral. She laughs at me, but I’d like to video tape my funeral in advance so I can share my confident hope in Heaven based on what Christ did, not what I did. Religion will not get you to heaven. Good works will not get any one to Heaven.. I’ll put my trust in the One person who went toe to toe with death and came out victorious. I also told my wife to bury me in a cheap plywood box from home depot. I didn’t want her guilted into spending a bunch of money on a box. Funerals can be expensive and the health code doesn’t allow Home Depot homemade coffins, BUT, back in 2009, Walmart started offering Coffins for sale for less than $1000. NOt kidding, here is the link
Some may be too proud to shop at Walmart for a funeral. As for me, I think it would sum up my view of money and death. Money: Don’t spend more than you need to on a box to hold your body. Death: It’s not the final chapter.
For more information, check out www.godonomics.com or this clip of me explaining the world views of death on the DVD series Godonomics.