By Rick Lewers
The first part in a short series that explores the ultimate end of us all.
What's at stake if you are unforgiven? Not many of us take time to think about this issue. Well relationally you are shot.
Have you ever thought about what happens one minute after you die, if you meet God unforgiven? I really want that question to confront you for the next few minutes.
The removal of God doesn't make any difference to death. Death is coming for all of us at some time. The presence of God, however, makes every difference to death.
Recently, I was asked to speak to a school where the students had an enormous number of questions about death and the afterlife. That is so very normal. Death being such a real thing is not a subject that can easily be swept under the carpet.By Rick Lewers
It is a topic that fills the public space on a daily basis. Death interrupts normal programing and we are forced to become visitors to death.
Television brings death into our living rooms such as what we have seen recently with the Grenfell Tower in London, but somehow we have become desensitised to it. Debates about abortion, suicide and euthanasia focus on death from the womb to old age, but somehow we manage to keep death at a distance.
Our views of death will shape our lifestyles and ethics. Death has a way of giving a person perspective. Sometimes we can be thankful when death removes dictators, the likes of a Hitler. On other occasions death can pervert perspective.
I remember an Aussie wealth expert declaring, "He who has the most at the end of life wins." Wrong! He who has the most at the end of life ... dies. What does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul?
Death's greatest perversion is captured in those well-known words: "Let's eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die". Strangely, such hopeless words could be the caption for modern-day Australia, the fine print on a flag that once promised much more.
Death without God can only be described as hopeless. The problem is that if you let God into the picture you suddenly have an accountability for how to live your life. But what do you do with accountability and the realities of death?
Creating a god that suits your own imaginings is of course convenient. And surprise, surprise – Such a god will nearly always agree with you and give you the stamp of approval. If the God of the Bible is not a figment of your imagination, then what is at stake if you are unforgiven?
Arnold Toynbee said: "Man alone has foreknowledge of his coming death and, possessing this foreknowledge, has a chance, if he chooses to take it, of pondering over the strangeness of his destiny.... He has at least the possibility of coping with it, since he is endowed with the capacity to think about it in advance and to face it and to deal with it in some way that is worthy of human dignity."
The Bible says: "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." I know forgiveness is available and I look forward to exploring with you a Christian understanding of death in the next few editions of Challenge.•