Summary: The real public enemy #1 is not the abysmal state of the economy or AIDS...it is DEATH
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
I would like for you to consider with me several scenarios:
• A little girl is setting-up the most perfect tea party for her favorite dolls, imagining that she is the lady-in-waiting to the throne of England.
• A ten year old boy is hitting stones over the fence in his back yard; he is pretending each swing is at a critical point of a World Series game.
• A teenager has a death-grip on his X-Box360 control – his military game “Call of Duty” requires him to kill 82,000 soldiers if he’s going to live through the day. He is making admirable progress; he aspires to someday be the governor of California.
• For those of you who want an illustration from real life – my oldest granddaughter, Chelsea had a fear of going under the water when she was very young. We lived in Florida, so we had a pool (it’s mandatory). Every day 3 year old Chelsea would tell me she was going to do it – cannonball into the pool and go all the way under, mouth, nose and eyeballs!
One fateful day she tried several times, as she had often tried before, running right up to the edge of the pool, then stopping like an invisible bungee-cord was tied to her. Finally she managed to brave it…Chelsea put her fear aside and leaped into the water…down, down, down….scrambling to the surface, and as she cleared the water from her eyes, she shook her head, looked around to survey the audience reaction, and proclaimed, “Well…..THAT was an adventure!”
Most likely we can all see these imaginary events and smile. After all, a “play event” that a child sees as monumental, adults see as “cute”. The little ones need to play at being “big people”. Soon enough they’ll get to the “real world” and have to deal with the bigger, more profound issues.
Life Has Some Serious Issues
Of course adults have big issues. Today even a ten minute segment of the news can send you running to the medicine cabinet for some valium or Prozac:
• Depression – it’s a good name for the state of the economy; that’s one where the issue and its effect are the same word.
• War and terrorism occupies our minds and prayer lists.
• The environment – global warming and narrowing energy choices.
• Racism, justice, peace, poverty, disease…….and on into the night!
Life’s Most Serious Issue - Death
Most of our culture’s problem issues have a solution, or can be addressed. But what do you do with death? This is the real public enemy #1! We have on planet earth at any one moment at least thirty gazillion people working on trying to beat or cheat death. Count the ways:
• Exercise and diet – I know you watch those shows, and if part of your church membership demanded filing your Mastercard statements with the treasurer, we’d have evidence you’ve ordered at least something to get healthier! But getting healthier doesn’t change death; perhaps only cheats it out of a few years.
I did one of those life-expectancy calculators online. They ask you a bunch of questions about your diet, age, family history, eating habits (ugh) and the like. After you answer all 75 questions you press “calculate” and the machine laughs at you, but produces a number that is your expected longevity. Mine was age 84. That seems pretty good, but it started the left side of my brain crunching the numbers. I’m just about 63. That means three-quarters of my life is over, gone….history! If the number is right I’ve got three times as much behind me as ahead of me!
Once you shake off the depression of that realization you begin to believe the mortality statistic – it’s 1:1, everybody dies. And it’s quicker than any of us thought. The apostle James, brother of Jesus put it this way:
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14b