Heaven… Life after death… Purgatory… the Great Mystery!
I did not closely follow the six seasons of the television series “Lost” but I stumbled on enough bits and pieces through the years to occasionally peek my curiosity. Last night, while my son was watching the final half hour I sat down long enough to catch the wrenching ending. Granted, it probably didn’t mean as much to me as it did to all those who following the story faithfully but I was never the less fascinated and even a bit captivated by the twist the producers gave the story. The survivors were never survivors…
We are, each one of us, both fascinated and frightened by our own pending death. We don’t live long on this planet and at some point we come to realize that our choices and actions are all just a part of a much longer story, a story that doesn’t resolve in this dimension. There has to be more…
Recently some amazing research has been done surrounding near death experiences. Certainly the case can be made from these studies that something more and other does await us beyond. It’s fine and even helpful for science to explore these matters, but really the Christian faith has been there long before. Like so much science, the researchers scale their own mountain peaks only to find the theologians already perched on the summit smoking pipes and pondering the next challenge.
Christians do believe in life beyond. And we don’t see it as arbitrary or uncertain. We believe that Jesus himself has come to earth to die for us, to pave the way into the grave and out of it. We’re told in our scriptures that one day we will all be like him, the first human to move through the end point of death and beyond to life. Far from uncertainty, and leaving us with a sense of un-resolve, Jesus settles the matter for us. We don’t earn our way through; we believe our way through, on his merit not ours.
I don’t adhere to all the speculations in the “Lost” finale, but I will give them this much: the writers drew on our yearning and uncertainty of the final future we all must face, and they took us into a place of hope. In my worldview this hope is not based on my own efforts, or even my own personal “purgatory” experience in a shadowlands beyond. My hope is rooted in Jesus and his victory over death. What “Lost” has done is pointedly raise the question we all ask: What next? What Jesus does, that they did not resolve is guarantee that future – a life everafter with God!
“God, we know that death awaits us all. We fear this, and that fear is entirely natural. But to trump this fear you have gone into death before us… Gone there and through it back to life. And here you have a given us a bold and certain promise… You have so love the world that you gave your one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have life everlasting. We trust you and your love and labor on our behalf. We trust you that life can be and is forever with you… In Jesus…”