Summary: Easter reflection series: exploring resurrection’s hope in the face of death
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DIE
1 Cor. 15:35-58
A troop of Boy Scouts was being used as "guinea pigs" in a test of emergency systems. A mock earthquake was staged, and the Scouts impersonated wounded persons who were to be picked up and cared for by the emergency units. One Scout was supposed to lie on the ground and await his rescuers, but the first-aid people got behind schedule, and the Scout lay "wounded" for several hours.
When the first-aid squad arrived where the casualty was supposed to be, they found nothing but a brief note: "Have bled to death and gone home..." What happens when we die? Do we go home, home to where? Where is home? Don’t think we want to wait around till we bleed to death to find out, do we?
Question that perhaps everyone will ask eventually. Increasingly in this post-modern age, people believe there is life after death. Movies like the popular Demi Moore flick “Ghost” or Robin Williams’ “What Dreams May Come?” all have brought to the fore new interest in the after-life. Recently a gangster rapper called Notorious Big who was killed in a drive by shooting even used this phrase “Life after Death” as the title of his latest and last CD. My advice is to avoid his work, full of wrong ideas about life. Do we really want to get our info on this issue from movies or a dead rapper? Whatever the angle is, all agree that death is real, but at one time, we seem to be shielded from it. It appears that since 9/11 we have become more aware of it. Daily we are fed news of more violence and death all around us in this world, now the war going on between Israelis and Palestinians takes up space on our news headlines on a daily basis. So what really happens when we die? It sure sounds like people are asking the question these days.
Faced with reality of death, many of us want some answers. Woody Allen said: “It’s not that I am afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Death is not comfortable, brings little comfort, it jars us, it wakes us up to what’s real because death happens to everyone 100% of the time.
Raised in Buddhist home, re: death I was told about reincarnation. Question I have: Will I come back as a cockroach, butterfly, cow, or what? No one knows. Not sure. Just make sure you live a good life. Not much help, because I mess up quite a bit. It does not help. So it’s really quite hopeless and fatalistic. I will probably come back as shrimp or worst. Other beliefs too.
Islam proposes that we need scales of justice… do more good and evil and if good outweighs evil… you will be blessed in the afterlife… But who can tell, or how I can I ever be sure that I have racked up enough good points, and not just goof points? Come on, I need better answers that guesses about how good I need to be, cuz if I am honest enough, I know even my most selfless good deed is somehow tainted with sin and selfishness. For instance, if I did something nice, like buy my kids some of the latest toys on the market, at the back of my mind, I am saying “that’ll buy me a few minutes of peace and quiet.”
Then there are those who were revived from the dead, or what we call now the “near death experiences”. They speak of “out of body” experiences. Seeing their own bodies being worked on by doctors or seeing bits of heaven or hell or seeing tunnels, bright lights or angels. One Christian commentator wrote “The clinical evidence for life after death is subjective and arguable. It’s often hard to assess the significance of "out of the body experiences," … It’s difficult to know how to respond to those who speak of temporary near-death visions into heaven or hell. What we do know is that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. Taken as a whole, this body of evidence shows that as people approach death, many sense they are coming not to the end of existence but to the beginning of another journey.” I think that this is right on.
Death is not the end of the story, but a new chapter of existence begins. That’s how the Bible explains. It is not left up to guess-work, of counting my good deeds and weighing it against the bad. Let’s read with me in the Bible in 1 Cor. 15:35-58 to get at some answers…
35But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.