In Bible College we never really talked about the practicality of death. Of course, we discussed the theology, implications, and consequences of death for the Christian but we never really discussed how to respond to the reality of death.
My wife loves Gray’s Anatomy. This popular TV show was actually the cause of significant fighting during our first year of marriage. The scenario played out like this. We would come home from work, eat dinner, and then Britt would say, “I need to catch up on Gray’s Anatomy, watch it with me.” My response every time was, “no”. Britt felt like I didn’t want to spend time with her, when really, deep inside I was dealing with some significant issues. From my perspective the entire show was filled with death. Death was packaged in a variety of creative ways always dealing with some kind of medical crisis. Regardless, I couldn’t stomach watching it. Then it hit me, why watch a show about death when there are real people that are dying all around us. These people have real families, real stories, real children, and they face a very real conversation with God after death.
As I have been processing through my feelings, fear, and honest resentment with death, Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been a great help. Bonhoeffer comments about death in a sermon in 1933 stating,
“How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether in our human fear and anguish, we are only shivering and shuddering at the most glorious, heavenly blessed even in the world? Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.”
Bonhoeffer rightly describes the dilemma of death. In all honesty, none of us know what death is like. Our view of death is a combination of assumptions, fears, faith, belief, and simply our acceptance of an absolutely unknown part of life. As I look to the scriptures it seems clear that death presents an opportunity to bring glory to God.
Bonhoeffer referred to death as,
“the last station on the road to freedom”
While it remains certain that we don’t know explicitly what death will be like, we can know for sure that both death and life give us the opportunity to bring glory to God. As the Apostle Paul states in Phil 1:21, life brings the opportunity to live for Christ while death gives the opportunity to depart and be with our Father. From this perspective, there is a motivation to live for Christ but a sense of peace in understanding the outcome of death is to be with God.