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Monday, September 12, 2011

Real Life

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as to the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. 1st Thessalonians 4:13, 14 (New American Standard Bible)

In the 1960 Disney version of the movie Pollyanna there is a scene on a Sunday morning in church where Reverend Ford gives a sermon called ‘Death Comes Unexpectedly.’ It is slightly humorous even though the reverend’s hellfire and brimstone sermon causes the chandeliers of the church to tremble. While what he said is true from a biblical standpoint, the vehemence of his sermon was not meant to comfort his flock but to tell them to ‘turn or burn.’ Fortunately for his parish at the end of the story Pastor Ford has a real heart change and adopts a profound attitude of grace. We are all too aware that death just doesn’t come unexpectedly but that it’s also guaranteed. The losses we feel in partings are indeed painful and leave those left behind wondering what it is all about. Is it true there is an afterlife? Do those who die believing that Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life open their eyes to a new world of wonder, beauty and holiness?

I am convinced by the evidence of the eyewitnesses who saw and lived with Christ that He is indeed the Truth of God, the Power of Resurrection and Eternal Life to those who believe. It is with the greatest confidence I believe when I finally pass over to the ‘other side’ I will again be with my loved ones who have died in Christ and we will be able to recognize one another. Meanwhile we wait with some grief at parting yet with the hope and comfort that they are in a place of beauty and peace before God’s throne and await a very real and physical reunion with us. Some call the death experience a ‘dream’ occurrence and our earthly existence the real thing. I believe it is just the opposite. Earth’s existence is the dream and we will never be as alive as when we enter into the spiritual realm. We are spiritual beings first, covered with a tent of flesh. Those who have gone ahead of us are fully aware of the full reality of spiritual life for they are partaking of an experience through Christ that is fully complete, wholly healthy and eternally vibrant. They are seeing and experiencing things we can only envisage and then things much greater than anything we could envision in our wildest imagination.

We will grieve the parting of our loved ones yet that heartache comes attached with a sure hope that they are truly alive at this moment beholding a world that is beyond description. Christ has purchased that life for us. Surely these words in Scripture are some of the most encouraging in the Bible. To be absent from this body is to be present with Christ. We can only be present with Him because of His finished work. He is, in the truest reality, our Resurrection and our Life.