Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I See Dead People

I saw one today, in fact. Propped in a coffin, fully and expertly made up and ready for viewing. She had passed away in her nineties and, while she certainly looked ‘peaceful’, as we say, no amount of makeup could disguise the ravages of nine decades.

And no amount of makeup could conceal that she was dead.

Dead people don’t look like living people. They don’t even look like the wax sculptures in Madame Tussaud’s. In life, there is always motion: the twitch of an eyebrow or the corner of a mouth; the alertness of the gaze, or the finger drumming absently on a tabletop. The person in cardiac arrest in the emergency room is thrumming with life by comparison. Even the most naturally calm person cannot for a second imitate the profound absence of vigor of a body in which the blood has stopped flowing, the synapses have stopped firing and every natural process that maintains life has irrevocably and eternally shut down.

Especially a week after the fact. They just look over, done, kaput. The End.

Except it isn’t.

One of two things happens, according to Scripture:

Scenario 1 is this: “God will bring with [Jesus] those who have fallen asleep.” At the return of the Lord, the spirits and souls of our departed loved ones who know the Saviour and rejoice in his presence will be reunited with their bodies, and will appear with him in glory. And if we ourselves hear his shout and are caught up to meet him in the air, we will find that those we love were there first, with him. We “will not precede” those who have “fallen asleep”.

That is a great comfort. I don’t mind building my worldview around these statements.

Scenario 2 is even simpler: “In Hades, being in torment …” 

I’m sure the woman I saw today lived a very decent life. She was a moral person, much loved, a wife of one husband and a person of whom nobody had anything discreditable to say.

But what did she think of the Lord Jesus Christ since that’s, after all, the only thing that matters. Did she love him? Was she saved?

Only the Lord knows. I do know that the Judge of All the Earth is never wrong.

There are people, many of whom regularly preside over funerals, who would have us believe that once the spirit has left the body it’s a whole new game. The score is wiped out and we start again at 0-0. Everybody gets a do-over after a few thousand years of purgatory to set us straight.

It’s a nice thought. It is not the teaching of the Bible.

Someone in your life may be up next, or maybe someone in mine. Have we done anything about it lately?

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