Is Death Natural? (TCM)
Since my call to Christ some 15 years ago, I have heard many different ideas and concepts about death. Many of these ideas are ones that ascribed to for most of my life. Death is an uneasy topic…a topic that will quite literally send some out of a room faster than any other topic of conversation. It is…morbid…a thing that no person truly likes to talk about because…well it is inevitable. The reality is…from the moment that we come into existence we walk towards death, slowly dying with each passing breathe, each beat of the heart, each step we take. With every passing moment, death comes closer breathing down our necks…waiting to devour us. In our world, death is a part of existence; it is an eventuality that must be contended with. With this truth in mind, many Christians make practical statements like, “death is a natural part of life.” This statement seems to fit our experience with the created order; loved ones die, pets die, animals die, plants die…in fact a major scientific theory called Evolution relies heavily upon death as a natural constant in order for it to bring about genetic variance and mutation that helps living creatures adapt to their environments.
Before we begin to look at the concept in relation to death, I think we first need to define the word “natural.” Some will point to this word and make the argument that because death does occur in nature that it is a true statement. But, this only understands the term from a scientific perspective, not from a philosophical or ontological one. When we say that something is “natural,” we generally mean intended. An example of this is when we say that puberty is a natural progression in human development. While some changes can be alarming to the individual, they are normative and therefore natural. So when we speak of a thing being natural we can state that it is a thing, “of or in agreement with the character or makeup of, or circumstances surrounding, someone or something.” When people make the statement that death is natural part of life…they are dead wrong. It isn’t…it is supernatural, it is divinely commissioned, and it is unnatural in every sense of the word.
Let me explain, in Genesis 3 we are told that death was brought into the world when humanity sinned against God. What this means is that our intended, natural state is one living in perfect relationship with God for eternity. Now, death is certainly a reality that we must contend with…but it is far from natural. It is tragic, it is evil, and it is something that we ushered in with our rebellion against God. It is quite literally the perfect picture of shooting one’s self in the foot. We as Christians need to understand this and feel the true gravity and weight that death puts upon all of humanity. This burden is even heavier on those who do not know Christ, because for them there is no hope for a future…no hope for life. We live in a jaded world, a world where death and destruction are nightly news reports. People are murdered, or in accidents on a daily bases…being exposed to this can, and has made us callous to death. When Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, MS last year, there was a variety of reactions. Some reactions (I am sad to say) from Christians were less than graceful. Some blamed the officer, some blamed Mr. Brown…but what both sides don’t seem to be taking into account is that two human lives were changed forever that day. One was snuffed out…and the other’s was marred and damaged.
Death was defeated in Christ, if this is so…then those who follow Christ as co-heirs with Him also have victory over death. Do not let the enemy callous your heart into seeing death as “natural,” in doing so you can find yourself making statements that do not reflect the Gospel. I have done this…in fact I did this with Mr. Brown not less than a year ago. I realize now that in trying to justify either’s actions I was failing to see the human element of suffering that occurred on both ends. No one came away unscathed…no one “won,” it was a loss and an injustice for all involved. It is with this truth that I now see that as Christians we have grown accustomed to justifying behaviors of “our own,” even if that means we betray the values of the gospel in the process. I know I am definitely guilty of this…and am in the process of repenting for it. We are all called to view each other as God views us…and to view the world we live in the way God views it. Attempting to “be practical” is an attempt to excuse away the truth of the scriptures in favor of something that makes more sense to us. So while death still affects humanity and creation as a whole…we are to take heart in that its victory over us is short lived. The event that we commemorated last Sunday made sure of that…once and for all. Peace and blessings and again thank you for reading.