by Mike Hill, pastor
Calvary Chapel Aberdeen
With a twinkle in his eye and tongue-in-cheek, I remember my Dad asking, “Do you know where people consider the most popular place to go?” We would offer our ideas and then finally admit that we were stumped. He would say, “A cemetery! Everyone is dying to get there!” We may chuckle and see the humor in his statement, but there is also much truth to ponder. Everyone dies. The statistic remains: 10 out of 10 people die and that includes me and you. Paradoxically, something that is so common to the human experience is seemingly so taboo to talk about. Even as you read this article, I wonder how many people will just simply stop reading because of its “deadly” topic. Some may say, “I want to read something more inspiring and fun.” But what can possibly be more inspiring than discussing the solution to our greatest fear?
Leighton Ford, Christian author, relates how Neil Simon, who wrote The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, was asked on the “Dick Cavett” Show whether making a lot of money concerned him. The studio went dead silent when Simon answered, “No…what does concern me is the fear of dying.”
Fear of dying is also exposed in last words people utter before they breathe their last. Voltaire, famous skeptic, during his life once said of Jesus, “Curse the wretch!” and “Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror…Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.” Upon his death bed, Voltaire cried out, “I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months’ life. Then I shall go to hell; and you will go with me. O Christ! O Jesus Christ!” Ludwig van Beethoven lamented, “Too bad, too bad! It’s too late!” Contrast these fearful pronouncements with confident declarations anchored in hope from believers facing death. For example, Martin Luther’s last words were, “Our God is the God from whom cometh salvation: God is the Lord by whom we escape death.” John Knox proclaimed, “Live in Christ, live in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.” The Bible, God’s Word, asserts that the fear of dying is a form of slavery which only Jesus can provide freedom (cf. Hebrews 2:15).
Death is not a subject to be avoided. The awareness of our impending death ought to motivate us to prepare for it. Thomas a Kempis, in his Imitation of Christ, affirms, “Thou oughtest so to order thyself in all thy thoughts and actions, as if today thou wert about to die. Labor now to live so, that at the hour of death thou mayest rather rejoice than fear.” How can you be ready for your hour of death?
It’s interesting how most people believe or at least hope that they will go to heaven after they die. Yet, most do not have a biblical rationale of why God should welcome them into heaven. Truth is, the Bible teaches that everyone is a sinner and deserves hell, not heaven (cf. Romans 3:23; 6:23). Heaven is a perfect place for perfected people. How can an imperfect person become perfected? Not through religion, good works, or even church membership. The only way to be ready to die is faith in Jesus. The only solution to the fear of dying is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, who died on the Cross for our sins and rose again on the third day (John 1:1-3, 14; 3:16; 14:6; Romans 10:9-10).
A cemetery may be the most popular place people go, but faith in Jesus is not. Be a non-conformist. Be an eternal trend-setter. Call upon Jesus and give your life to Him. You will be eternally glad you did. And, you’ll be ready when death comes knocking.