Summary: Addresses the fact that we are all going to die; one in one persons die! But we do not have to fear death.
“The Reality of Death”
Last Monday was Memorial Day the day we pay tribute to those men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. On that same day this church lost a long time member and a wonderful caring woman in Jerry Kelly. Also passing in to eternity this week was former Governor Casey. With the reality of death all around us the Lord has laid it on my heart this morning to address – The reality of Death. My deepest hope and prayer is that this will not be seen as a dark, morbid message, but instead that it would be a message of comfort, encouragement or maybe even led to the salvation of one among us.
We often speak the axiom - There are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. But in reality this is a falsehood. With the right deductions and a good accountant millionaires have managed to avoid paying any taxes at all. In contrast everyone, millionaires and paupers, will face the ultimate certainty: death. Death is the one thing all of humanity has in common. One out of one people die. We find that death is also without prejudice; it comes to each and every individual on its own terms.
I think it’s interesting that over the last one hundred years the outlook on death has changed in our country. I believe this can be seen in a small way by our view of cemeteries. I mentioned last Sunday that in the 1800’s families used to go the cemetery to have picnics. This was a way of remembering their loved ones, of having their loved one present. Today it seems the only time people visit cemeteries is for a burial service. Can you imagine our thoughts if we saw someone having a picnic in a cemetery, most of us would likely cringe in disgust.
Another shift in our view of death can be seen in the fact that 80% of people die in hospitals or convalescent homes instead of their home. It used to be that families and friends would gather around the bed of a dying loved one, this seems to be a thing of the past. Unfortunately today we hide the reality of death away in institutions – death has become a sterile and lonely business. We try to put death as far from us as we can. But the further it is from our midst the less of a reality it is, until ultimately we find a loved one of ours has been taken.
I believe when we remove death from our midst, we begin to remove God from our midst. Remember it is God who gives and takes life. What happens is that in place of God we put such things as modern medicine and medical teams and techniques. But death is a part of life and we must We begin to ask ourselves the question - What do we need to know, to understand and accept about the reality of death in our lives?
First it is important to realize that death does not come from God. Death is a result of man’s own choosing. The Scripture plainly tells us, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ... ‘you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’”(Gen 2:1617) God told Adam the only thing he was not to do was to eat from this tree, but if he did, he would die. Adam was just like you and I, he had to touch and taste, the untouchable. How many of you when you see a sign, “Wet Paint” has to touch it. Adam chose to eat and Romans 5:12 tells us the result of his partaking. “... sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Folks, Adam represented all of humanity and when he took and ate, God’s perfect creation became saturated with sin and it is because of sin we die. God is not the cause of death, man is.
This means when we lose a loved one we cannot blame God for that lose. The Scriptures tell us that God is love (1 John 4:8). The love that God is leads Him to express Himself in terms of endearment toward His creatures, you and I. It is God’s desire to actively manifest this endearment and affection towards His creatures in acts of loving care and selfsacrifice. The greatest act of God’s self-sacrifice was that He “... gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The death of a loved one should not lead us away from God, but it should cause us to draw nearer to Him. But, part of the problem is that we are a dependent people. Man so often claims to be independent, yet the reality of life is that we are a dependent people. When we are born we depend upon our parents, if we become sick we are dependent upon doctors and medication, we are dependent upon our government to keep us safe through our military, and as we grow older we become more and more dependent upon our children. Whether you accept it or not in the deepest part of our being we are a dependent people.