April 2017 From the Minister’s Forward Planning
Christians should not neglect this area of the human condition, after all escaping an uncertain eternity is a major ‘selling point’ for our faith. It also touches something held in common with all people on the planet – one out of one people cease to exist. It is the perfect statistic, and it scares many people.
In Christ we are offered a relationship with God that starts in this life but knows full merit in the next life. Our eternal existence will be one of peace, and one without suffering, anguish or toil. We will occupy wonderful new bodies that are not prone to the twinges of the current models. Our minds will have a fuller knowledge base that will include an awareness of people who we have not met before (you will recognise Moses and Elijah). Conflict will be a thing of the past. The venue will be amazing; a place beyond our imagination. To qualify for entry all we have to do is confess our need of God, seek his healing and live to serve him.
Now this is where people begin to struggle a little; some think that God will include everyone in heaven. They live for themselves and don’t see any need of change. Others become repressed and full of rules in the hope of heaven. Many consider they personally will never qualify because they are not good enough. I could go on but for most when death comes into view a very real fear dawns upon them all. For those with no faith they either persuade themselves this is all there is or secretly doubt that the end is the end.
Jesus came to take away our fear and to welcome people into heaven but it is an offer that needs a response. An assurance is possible that our future is secure but an ongoing relationship is the key. I think it’s worth saying that the thief on the cross rather bucked that trend and the church has always specialized in late bookings. The knack is having time to make the arrangement of course
We are all aware that death touches on so many other areas, its not only the questions of heaven but the finality of the process, the method of departure and separation from family and friends. There is also the matter of ambition – mountains to climb, places to go. Such things may well be taken out of our hands and we should keep a very healthy respect for what this life offers and always keep in mind that we are just passing through.
As many of you will know I was not expected to live through childhood because of my medical problems. At 54 I am amazed that such time has been granted to me but every time I walk into the Crematorium I know that a day will dawn when I am brought to such a chapel. I find it a gentle reminder that the best is yet to come and though I don’t want to leave the family behind the hope of faith makes all the difference to the final outcome.
It is a hard subject and I have only scratched the surface and perhaps even upset one or two by mentioning it. Silence though does not make the problem go away and the mission of the church is driven by a need to address this matter in all lives in order that peace and assurance can be granted, such a focus may even bring joy in knowing the difference that Easter makes in our life and death.
So when Easter comes remember that God has provide for our future and made the day bearable. He has placed this gift on offer to all people, they just need the information.