Friday, April 6

Afraid to Die or Afraid to Live?

It depends. 

Most are afraid to die for obvious reasons. They live solely for this life and so have no good stake in the life that is to come. Others are afraid because they are not convinced that there IS a life to come, so their motto is carpe diem ("live for today"). 

But for the Christian, the true believer in Jesus Christ, the conviction increases throughout his life that his time on earth is but a precursor to that which is greatly improved, the lesser giving way to the vastly greater life in Christ. So it was for Robert Chapman (1803-1902) of England. Born into a wealthy home in Denmark, taught the classics in literature, fluent in 7 languages as well as biblical Hebrew and Greek, Chapman, though raised in a religious home, came to know Christ savingly at age 20. Though a successful lawyer, he always had a philosophical bent, so he tended to consider things deeply. This is true about the Christian life and, of course, death which we all must face. Here is what he said on the subject: 
I remember the time when I was afraid to die.… But on coming to Christ and being saved by Him, I passed from that state to another, that of being afraid to live, for I feared that if I lived I might do something that would dishonor the Lord, and I would rather die a hundred times than do such a thing. But thanks be to God, I did not remain long in this state, for I saw clearly that it was possible to live in the world without dishonoring God.

Peterson, R. L. (1995). Robert Chapman: Apostle of Love (27). Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth Publishers.
We see the difference don't we? Fear of dying or fear of living depends on what we hold dear. If we love this world, the world of the seen, then we fear leaving it. But if we fear God, then we fear offending Jesus Christ. This will make little sense to those whose lives have been perpetually indoctrinated with self-determination. But for those who know (and love) Christ, it makes all the sense in the world.

Jesus rose from the dead that those who die with him may also be raised into a new life, a life which grounds all success and failure on its willing adherence to loving law of Christ. "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above . . ." (Col. 3:1). 


No comments: