Summary: Salvation is a gift from God
How do I overcome this nagging feeling that there must be more to life than death?
Image: (two minute video clip of Movie deaths and followed by fears from the congregation)
For your information those fears listed at the end of our video this morning were fears we texted that we hoped and prayed for God’s strength to overcome them. You see, we all walk around life with fear. We are all very similar in this. The difference we have as Christians is that we are willing to address our fears. We share our fears. We even pray for God to release us from these fears. And we have seen God act in these requests.
For those who don’t know me, my name is Pastor Bob. I am one of two pastors’ on staff here at WSC. We are church with a mission to love God, love others and change the world. We hope that after hanging out with us a while you will realize that we really are not all that different from you. While we come in all different shapes and sizes, we have the same hopes, dreams and fears.
Fear is defined as an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.
Psychology tells us there are 5 basic fears we all possess. They are:
1. Extinction. Fear of death.
2. Mutilation or loss of bodily structure, losing the integrity of our body, mind, natural function. Fear of bugs, spiders & generally creepy things.
3. Loss of autonomy: fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or being controlled.
4. Separation: fear of abandonment, rejection, loss of connectedness, someone giving us the 'silent treatment.'
5. Ego-death: the Fear of humiliation, shame, or any mechanism of profound self-disapproval.
Over the course of this message series we have been briefly touch on all of Psychology’s fab five as a point of awareness because awareness is the first step in solving the problem. Fear is a problem because it keeps us from what God has created us for.
Today, let’s finish our walk through fear by digging into the grand daddy of all fear: the fear of death. Technically, it’s called: Thanatophobia. The fear of death, dead things or anything associated with death.
Alfred Krupp, the famous Prussian ammunitions maker, lived in constant fear of death. Everyone throughout his entire company was strictly forbidden to refer to the subject of death in conversation. He ran from his own house because a relative of his wife's suddenly died there. And when Mrs. Krupp objected, Alfred became so enraged that he initiated what was to be a lifelong separation. During his last sickness, he offered his doctor a million dollars to prolong his life. But, of course, that was impossible. Death has very real power. A God with Heart, Ron Luchies, Christian Globe Networks, Inc.
Death ranks number one among all fears and it strangely is lessened the closer to it we become as we age. There is no real cure to the fear of death but it can be lessened by our understanding of the meaning of death and our view of what comes next.
Kelli Swazey, an anthropologist, in her 2013 TED talk tells of her experience with her husband’s culture where living with dead is the norm. In his homeland in eastern Indonesia, it is normal to live alongside the dead. They literally live with the dead. The dead person is referred to as sick. The people live with the deceased as they slowly ritualize and minimize the effect of their transition to the afterlife. You see, the family and community believe the person is not officially dead until the funeral has taken place in front of the whole community. It is the event that ties people together in that society. Until that point, which could be a month or even years, the dead person is held in the house. The culture of death as it is called by anthropologist includes elaborate funeral ceremonies which can go for days and even weeks depending on the families’ excitement about the person’s life. The funerals become incredible times in which the dead aren’t only honored but are ushered into the next part of their journey. This passing on as a social process has profound effects on their lives and even the meaning of death. What if we grew up in that sort of environment, where death was not a singular event to mourn but a important social process that ties families, the person’s history, the view of the future and even society together? How might that change our perspective?
The reality is we all will someday face death. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:26) tells us the last enemy is death. There is no avoidance. No one gets out of this game alive. The larger question becomes, what happens next?