Saturday, 20 October 2012


As I attended the funeral of my father-in-law I noticed his family all accepted death as part of life. There was no questioning that death ought not to be. Why if life evolved should there be death? There is no survival advantage to dying.

My in-laws are Christian. They look on death as a separation from their loved ones but they also know that death is union with God. Though they are saddened at the separation from loved ones they know that it is temporary. Death is thus a doorway into the eternal where there is no further death - no separation is ever permanent.

God promises that in eternity there will be  joy with no more tears, no more sorrow. That is what everybody wants. Well you would think that is what everybody wants. When you see how simple God makes it to enter the kingdom of God it is a wonder that everyone does not find their way into paradise. Jesus said that whosoever believes in me, even though his body dies, shall have eternal life. Now believe in this context is not mere intellectual consent. It means committing yourself to His ways rather than your ways or the ways of the world systems. It means following His lead every day of your life. Simple but not so easy. It does not take great effort, wealth, social prowess or intellectual acumen. It only requires that you be a "whosoever" that believes.

So how can we humans foul this simple command so badly? There are many people who imagine themselves to be above the "whosoevers" of life. I know I used to be one of them. Then one day my God said to me, why do you look down of those "whosoevers" for whom I died. Ooops! When God dies for you, you become important - you cannot be more important than God dying for you! God treats all the "whosoevers" as though we were royalty, sons of the King. We get respect because we reflect the image of God who created us. Looking down on anyone is not allowed.

There is nothing greater in life for humans than reflecting God's image. That is our glory! In the beginning there was no death. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had no fear of death because there was no death. So where did it come from? It came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - the one tree in the Garden of Eden that God commanded that we not eat of. When we know good and evil we pass laws to make people behave right. In doing so we divide humans into the law-abiding and the evil-doing. This requires that we, the law-abiding become the judges of the evil-doers. The relationships in this world become centered on performance of duty and avoidance of crime. But does that really work?

Islamic societies have one of the most rigorous law codes. It is used to control the behaviour of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Yet some of the most heinous unloving acts of cruelty are carried out by the very law-abiding clerics who supposedly love justice and God. The whole system fails. Love is expressed within relationships. It is not just a set of behaviours. Just because you conform to the dictates of the law does not make you one who loves.

Turning love from a relationship into a set of restrictions on behaviour is the beginning of the death of love and whose end is the love of death. This is the meaning behind the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Note the portrayal of this tree as a apple tree is an artistic rendition not in the text.)  It changes the whole human experience from one of a loving relationship with God and each other that is central to our life and living in a system of law and punishment - death.

And what do we call this legalistic system. God calls it death. He said that the day that you, Adam and Eve, eat of it, you will surely die. It is beyond what God planned and intended. Fair warning, yet Adam and Eve were fooled into eating it with the promise that they would become like God. But the serpent know they were already like God. What they got was a breach in their relationship with God and shame and guilt for betraying their friend. With that came a new nature. This nature is one that loves to disbelieve God. To overcome this evil nature requires faith. Faith undoes the work in humans that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did.

Life then becomes a journey of daily making faith choices to follow the voice of God. This is only possible when God changes your unbelieving nature back to a believing nature in what Jesus described as being "born again". How do you become "born again"? Any step of faith from the darkness towards the truth that Jesus is the Christ is a "born again" moment that will change your nature. You may still have unbelieving paradigms resident in your head that cause you to sin but your nature is changed forever. As one with a believing nature your destiny is Heaven - always was and always will be. Overcome unbelief and you overcome death.

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