Why do people change their otherwise-indifferent attitudes to God when they are faced with the reality of death? How does it make sense that most would rather not discuss God on a normal day, but fleet to churches for funerals? Are people actually interested in God but are only awakened to this concern when death occurs? Do people not see that people are dying every day? So, then, are the questions of God not present/worth considering every day as well?
These questions I hope to answer, or at least address, with what follows. You may ask, “Why?” My answer: Because death has been on my mind. Recently I have attended two funerals, one for my grandmother and the other for the father of a high school student I study the Bible with. Let there be no mistake… funerals can be devastating. Death can be disturbing. Beyond the tears that fell and the emptiness that was felt at both these funerals, one persistent idea came to mind: why are we talking about God?
To start, it seems most people lead a life as if no God exists. There, I said it. I’m not saying my grandmother or my friend’s father did not believe in God, their examples merely serve as a jumping point. Instead, I’m placing my claim onto people as a whole. To test my theory that most people live as if no God exists (or at least as if He is insignificant), try to start a conversation about God with someone. Not just a superficial, short, nice-to-meet-ya conversation either. Try starting a deep conversation. Chances are, it will not be easy. Why is this? Simply because people tend not to care.
Why do they not care? I mean, the Bible says people are being shown that God in fact exists:
“…because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20
This passage describes how people innately see that there is a God. Evidence abounds. Here lies a possible answer to the funeral question. Death both shocks and awakens us. We realize, deep down, that there must be something afterward. How can life just end? So, when death occurs, people (with their innate knowledge of God) revert to Him. Although they may have been living as if He does not exist, death is too sharp of a reminder that He most likely does.
However, the passage goes on to say how many people react to this truth in their daily lives:
“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” Romans 1:25
Although God makes His existence evident to us, not all people choose to believe. Since we are prone to living selfish lives, it becomes almost natural to live as if no god exists. While this is philosophically easy enough to practice on the daily level, when a hardship such as death occurs the sentiment comes up dry. It is simply not enough to base life on. Do we all just live, die and feed the soil we are buried in?
Here’s where the good news comes into play. We don’t have to just rot after death:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12
Simply put, God wants to come into a relationship with you. He wants you to experience a full, significant and eternal life. All you have to do- all you can do- is ask for His forgiveness and for Jesus’ death to count for you. After that, you are set. You are then viewed as His child.
If a person has done this, his or her family has something real to put their hope in upon death:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
This is amazing! Instead of a sense of utter despair upon death, we can delight in the fact that the person (who put his or her faith in Jesus) is going to heaven. Sometimes, I think the phrase “good news” puts this too lightly. It is amazing, awesome, beautiful news.
Overall, I guess the whole purpose of this little blog is to hopefully serve as some sort of wake up call. Instead of considering God’s existence when dark times arise, why not do so now? The sad fact is we all are going to die. Luckily, though, it does not have to be sad.