Recently someone I have never met, but knew of through others, died young.
I went running after hearing the news. The weather had just changed, and it was cold outside for the first time in the year. My lungs burned and I could taste blood.
I might not die for a while, but I am still dying. Every bit of pain I felt during the run confirmed that. I am mortal, and so is everyone around me.
Death is the enemy. It is a separation of us from those we love. It is the cessation of bodily life. Death, and everything leading up to it, is bad. It is the primary problem in the human condition, along with its partner sin.
Everyone has to deal with death. They have to adopt beliefs to make sense of it, even if only to detach from the awfulness.
Only Christianity features the defeat of death, since it teaches a resurrection. Other religions look for hope in death, not salvation from it. Like in atheism, death is seen as natural and necessary.
Of the Abrahamic religions, only Christianity carries a rock-solid assurance of resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead historically. The first part of the resurrection has already happened.
Mohammed is still dead, and so is Moses. But Jesus is not dead. He is alive, and death’s days are numbered.
Christian beliefs about death start with the origin of death: sin. Sin and death go together hand in hand, and sometimes it is difficult to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. Adam and Eve sinned, and then were cursed with death. But the fear of death itself causes us often to sin. It is a vicious cycle.
Right now we feel as though we are powerless against death. And we are right. We who live in the developed West are removed from death by medicine and by custom. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a dead body. When it strikes, we are shocked out of our shiny existence.
Our medicine is a very good thing, but we will just as surely die as Adam and Eve. Modern medical knowledge is no substitute for the resurrection that Christ will bring at his return, freeing his people not just from death, but from sin as well.
This doesn’t make it any easier being mortal right now, and watching fellow humans dying all around. But we need to know it nonetheless.