Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Death now... and then.    (11/12/2017)

Death is the ‘final frontier’ we’ll all explore at some time.

Science fiction allows the crew of the Starship Enterprise to explore space and mess around with reality—but our reality is that, when we die, we’re gone. The big question is to where, and in what form?

Those are two big questions. One possibility is that we don’t go anywhere: that death is, indeed, the end, and our bodies return to the dust we’re formed from. Most people, today and throughout history, have believed otherwise, and have been putting flowers and precious possessions in graves for 50,000 years to supply an ‘afterlife’.

Christian understanding is based on the experience of the first disciples of Jesus, who described meeting him after his death on a Roman cross. Their stories are of a physical Jesus, who could be touched; who ate and drank with them; but who could also appear and disappear at will, or move through locked doors. There are also hints of strangeness about his appearance. Some followers doubted or did not recognize him.

Resurrection involves an embodied existence after death, though the details are rather hazy! One certainty, however, is that Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation stone of Christianity. Without it, Jesus would have indeed been a great human being, but also a failed messiah (saviour). The cross would be tragedy rather than triumph.

However, with the cross we see God’s ‘seal of approval’ on Jesus’ life, message, and death. The cross becomes an act of rescue and his disciples are transformed from a bunch of frightened no-hopers into a group of ‘heroes’ who changed the world.

The unique person we are now will persist, in body, mind and spirit—although changed. I’m hoping for a few pounds off and better muscle tone, but only God knows the form we will take! It’s sufficient to be held in the embrace of the Reality behind our reality, the spiritual being who holds the atoms and energies of our universe in place.

But there is still more to resurrection. It’s a promise, a safety net that protects us no matter what life throws at us—‘underneath are the everlasting arms’ (and, indeed, no matter what God throws at us). When we sign on the dotted line as Christians then we receive the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead. With the Spirit of resurrection working in and through us, our calling is not just to be changed, but to change the world around us. If resurrection is about transformation, it starts here, not in heaven, and it starts with me... and possibly with you..?

Pray: God, I invite you into my life. Please change me, and use me to change the world. Help me to be a 'superhero' for you. Amen.

Think about: People have all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas about death and the afterlife. Perhaps the cross of Christ is one of the most weird and wonderful of all. Is it less credible for all that? Or is a story that has survived 2,000 years and been embraced by billions of people through history worth a closer look?

Challenge: Change is inevitable in our lives. What's changing in your life, and is it for the better or for worse? Can you identify something in you that needs changing for the better, and invite God to get involved? And what are you doing to make your world a better place?

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