Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A matter of life and death

He is not the God of the dead but of the living. -Matthew 22:32

I'm not sure why, but this verse has come up again and again in the past several months, starting in the fall at a church retreat.

One of the church's leaders had just lost his mother that day, and the pastor implored us to meditate on this verse. Among Russian Orthodox believers there is a practice of praying for the Lord's mercy on the spirit of the dead, as it passes through the journey to its final destination. But the Lord wants to meet with us in this life. It is here where we make our decision, and if we choose life, He will still be our God...not the Lord over our dead bodies, but the Lord of our new, eternal flesh.

Then I was talking to a friend who was favoring a "catch-all" sort of spiritual mindset. She was okay with most religions, and astrology and divination were just fine, too. As I explained that my views were a little narrower, she asked "Do you believe in ghosts?" I said that I believed in evil spirits, as the Bible does recall incidents of demon possession. But what about the "friendly" kind? You know, the spirit of the deceased relative, "watching over" someone, or trying to "say" something. I thought for a moment, and the verse popped into my mind again. Anything to do with the "undead" is NOT of the Lord. He is the Lord of the living. We may commune with the Lord in this life, but those who are dead, are dead, awaiting resurrection. If resurrected, we will live in a new heaven and a new earth. There is no wandering about between the worlds. read more/-

Guess what phrase came up in my Greek homework? That very verse. A fairly simple passage to translate, since the only verb is "to be." It's part of the essence of who God is. How could a dead person choose whom to serve? When we speculate about what really goes on in the afterlife, all we can do is compare it with the life we know. But there, everything will be different. We will change. Outside of our faith, all else becomes irrelevant.

Recently, I was reading some headlines about Japan. A CNN article mentioned the impossibility of performing funerals for most of the dead, as mass burials are presently a necessity. My heart went out to the survivors who were not able to confirm if family members were alive or dead. At the same time, I thought, does it really MATTER in what form they were buried? And again I thought of the Lord and how He takes care of the living. The deceased, if believers, have already met with the Lord. They receive eternal life. But there is still hope for the ones left behind.

Soon, we will observe the ultimate victory of life over death, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!

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