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An Easter Meditation-2016 By William Ryzek
I hate death. I hate it because it's just not supposed to be here. It flies in the face of God and His creation. How could the living God, the God Who is Life, create anything other than life and how is it that death remains to this day the destroyer of life?
Most Christians believe that deaths appearance in creation is the fault of our parents, Adam and Eve; it was not there 'in the beginning' when the Living God made everything 'good'. Since we are all connected to the first Adam we all sin and every sin carries the death sentence. But, death is not confined to just human experience but robs the essence of all living things thereby reducing them to coldness, darkness and decay. We see this everywhere around us; dying forests, dying oceans, dying atmosphere, dying earth, dying animals and, it seems to me, all this is on the increase.
However, death extends far beyond mere natural things because it is a supernatural phenomenon, an eternal death (called the "second death" by Jesus in Rev 2:11) and every person confronted by the truth of the Gospel therefore makes a spiritual life and death decision. Christians choose the life demonstrated by Jesus' resurrection, the final and complete overcoming of death. Paradoxically, Christians live to die, a dying to self, a narcissistic self driven by hubris and through this 'death' experience the resurrection life of Jesus now and for eternity.
The only alternative view is that death is the final, inevitable, necessary result of blind evolutionary, materialistic and purely 'natural' processes. Buying into this 'creation story' generates a 'nauseating nothingness' (see Sartre's Being and Nothingness) forcing an already dead person (it may take decades, but we are all born dead) to forge some kind of self-defined 'meaning' out of a terrifying meaninglessness. The nearly universal lawlessness, terror, societal disintegration, political mayhem and constant war shows the kind of 'meaning' humanity has come up with.
Dismissing the Gospel and the message of Easter as some kind of religious fairy-tale, wishful thinking, or an irrational denial of the "natural order of things" is to already have chosen death over life. Anyone so choosing remains the enemy of God and continues hating God (see Romans 5:10). All who reject Him will eventually discover that natural, physical death is not the end after all, that their soul, which they probably deny exists at all, is forever separated from the Living God, the Source of eternal Life, Joy, Peace and Happiness.
So, what's the point of all this? Those of us who have chosen life over death through Jesus must bring the message of life to all who remain dead. It is a formidable task for the enemies of God and champions of death, both natural and supernatural, are arrayed against us. But, we know this war was already won the day the Son of God arose from the dead and makes our victory today assured. Armed with this knowledge and faith, the gates of hell cannot prevail against us and we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. We can rejoice at these words of Paul this Easter Day:
Romans 8:3139 (NKJV)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
"For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
William Ryzek, PhD has been both a pastor and academic for several years. He has published articles in various magazines and newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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