Happy Easter! We have a future hope–and a present vibrant life in Christ!”
Enter vibrant life (exit: colorless, dull, pale lifelessness). Synonyms for vibrant: alive, colorful, active, animated, dynamic, electrifying, energetic, lively, peppy, responsive, sensitive, sound, sparkling, spirited, vigorous, virile, vital, vivacious, vivid, zesty, zippy. I hate dressing up–but I’ll take all the vibrant life available!
“The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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.”
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(I Corinthians 15)
Tag Archives: death
Happy Easter! We have a future hope–and a present vibrant life in Christ!”
My friend, you made so much of life,
and played through it with forced vivacity.
You turned a blind eye to all that which Life rests upon
but declared you’d embraced Life.
Do you remember when your success
became your virtue?
When did you begin to discount virtue
by counting its cost?
As your time was winding down,
you still stuck to your shuffling revelry,
till death’s draft swept the stupor
of your Long Life’s Party out the door.
Yet, there was a time you paused, my friend:
do you remember, near the end?
You asked me if you had it wrong
about the coming Chill?
I told you that
thinking sunny thoughts
never warmed a House.
-A Charity Johnson, 2011
It’s been said that ideas have consequences—I would add that attitudes do, too. One of my great uncles was a Communist as a young man. I suppose, the theory sounded paper-good. Family lore has it that when he was sent overseas, he changed his mind about the Communism’s positive contribution–and changed his attitude towards it.
Little is more unsettling than a disengaged, disinterested atheist: the ones with a “Whatever…” attitude. It’s unsettling because it’s a dead attitude: there’s no freshness, no curiosity, no vibrancy. A few days ago, my husband was leaving the office and met someone for the first time. This employee was departing at the same time to go on a jog. It turned out that he was the final person to talk to the employee alive– she was struck and killed in the evening traffic. I do not know the spiritual state of the employee. I only know the death was unexpected and sudden—but that is our continual status as humans.
A person’s beliefs about the world is a conglomeration of who he is and who he has become-never an accurate reflection of the world. If his belief about God is that He is not there and does not care, I have to wonder who taught him this. God will never will trifle with your affections—that is, He takes your feelings seriously—probably more seriously than you do. And He, of all, is faithful to you.
Some atheists have told me, “I can’t pray so I don’t.” and “I don’t know what to believe about God.” If you want love, then you must pray. All you need is to be willing to try—God coaches you through it all. And you can’t pray wrongly— not when you pray with your entire heart.
“That prayer has great power which a person makes with all his might…
It draws down the great God into the little heart;
it drives the hungry soul up into the fullness of God;
it brings together two lovers, God and the soul, in a wondrous place
where they speak much of love.” (Mechthild of Magheburg)
As for “what to believe about God” problem, I suggest you ask yourself what Christ says about Him and what is important to Him—and look in the Bible for that information. God will provide the rest—but don’t expect a PhD in God-o-logy, for spiritual growth can (and should) go on your entire life—however long that is. The only hard question is: are you willing?
At this time of year, magazines and organizations start giving out annual awards. Time Magazine has “Man/Woman/Superhero of the Year” on its cover. There is one person who won’t see next year’s cover: a famous author and critic, also an antagonistic atheist, has just died from cancer. Unfortunately, the adjective that came to mind when I saw the death announcement was “proud,” as in “a proud man.” I hope his memorial service is kinder to his memory than my first thought was. Surely he was loved, but his words were barbs, more like weapons than winning or even winsome. You need to be an accomplished trickster and author to cover up who you really are when you write. Since he was a writer, my reading of him made me think he was both intelligent and proud. Why was he antagonistic towards God and towards Christianity? Only he and God truly know, so I won’t speculate. More to the point, why is anyone so accomplished as he so antagonistic? I think they are afraid of being seen as weak and sentimental; many intellectuals are afraid of that kind of branding–like a 3 year-old is afraid of a monster.
Religion, at least the Christian religion, teaches us that vengeance should not come from us. (What a wonderful world this would be!) Because restraint from vengeance is seen, not as strength, but as weakness by most men, this makes Christians look weak and weak-willed. Further, educated intellectuals (and Chuck Norris) wish to be perceived as stronger than all their competitors, the shoe of Christianity doesn’t fit their foot. (In a seeming paradox, Christianity also teaches that timidity should not come from us, either. And, meekness and boldness are both be evidenced in Christian adherents.)
But, in the end, it is usually pride (whose root is fear) which freezes the fellow’s heart: when the heart’s frozen, he’s in the iceberg of aloneness. He’s isolated himself on an island of Me, Myself and My Great Ideas. He wants no great spiritual fire to light his insides: he might be misunderstood, or criticized, or not be in charge. Pride (of the bad sort) is blinds you and it is your own killer. Pride has no known good side to it.
“Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.” - CS Lewis
Lewis elaborates on this: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
A proud man or woman can give a reason, or a rationalization, for whatever deceit he or she chooses to tell himself or herself for the apathy, disinterest, and antagonism towards God. In the end, Lewis puts it bluntly: “Oh, Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!”
“…store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:20-21)
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory? (I Corinthians 15:54-55)
Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
These rebel powers that thee array;
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body’s end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.
Easter Celebration-the day we remember Jesus Christ, after being death for 3 days and 3 nights, arose from the dead and still lives in heaven–is about the triumph of Christ over sin and death.
This is why the Apostle Paul celebrates Christ as the “2nd Adam” who rectifies, sets aright, the problems initiated in the universe by the “1st Adam”–the woes of the created universe, of our flesh (sickness and death) and of our sin (think of emotional problems and hurts if you do not understand sin). No perfection can be attained by ourselves, no, we must have it done for us by a much bigger power–and one who cares for us–humans cannot hoist themselves up by their own bootstraps.
Some scriptural thoughts about this:
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood.
For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.
Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. ” The Bible: Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT)
“Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
“Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”
The Bible: Isaiah 55:1-3 (NLT)