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Tag: death

Mortality Reality behind COVID-19

Afraid to die.  That about sums it up.  People are afraid to die.  And it appears we Americans are especially afraid.  This has been evidenced in many ways during this time of COVID-19, including the following:

1) Frantic hoarding of basic commodities
2) Persistent numbing of the self through various media technologies and vices
3) Flat-out denial of the reality of death
4) Overreactions in some of the precautionary efforts

Don’t misunderstand.  I agree that disease can be serious, and we should take appropriate precautions.  But we should also take care not to overreact and do more harm than good.  When it comes to the topic of death and dying, the flight or fight instinct kicks into hyperdrive, and it becomes more difficult to remain balanced.

May I share some good news with you?  You don’t have to be afraid to die.  But before you can arrive at this place of fearlessness, you must first face the fact of your mortality.  So, turn off Netflix, put away Facebook, and set aside that glass of wine long enough to let your mortality-reality set in:

I’m going to die, and you are going to die.  Everyone is going to die.  Coronavirus has not changed this reality in either direction.  It’s as true now as it was the day you were born.

Why are we going to die?  Well, it depends on who you ask?  If you ask the secular humanist, he would say it’s just part of the physical reality of our evolutionary life-cycle.  How sad!  Is that really the best explanation of reality?  People are just a pile of mobile flesh and bones?

This view falls short on many counts, not the least of which includes our complexity of emotions and deep sense of justice.  For example, we don’t arrest, prosecute, and imprison lions and wolves for killing their prey; but we do carry out justice for humans murdering other humans.  Why?  Because of a deep sense of human value and complex emotions founded upon justice (right vs. wrong).

Enter the biblical view of death.  Death is not simply the end to a biological life cycle.  Death is the consequence of our disobedience to the Ultimate Holy Lawgiver.  His name is Yahweh, the one and only God, the LORD of this universe that He created.  The reason we feel a deep sense of justice is because God has set His laws on our hearts.

The bad news is you and I have broken God’s laws again and again and again.  Our disobedience is called sin.  And God doesn’t hide our mortality-reality from us.  He tells us straight up, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23).  That’s eternal death, a forever conscious punishment that we deserve in Hell.  No earthly disease can hold a candle to the torments of this judgment.  What good would it be to survive COVID-19 only to die of some other cause and land yourself in eternal judgment?  This is the mortality-reality behind COVID-19.

The good news is you and I don’t have to go to Hell because God is not only a just God but a merciful and loving God too.  God loved the world by giving “his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn.3:16).  This good news is called the gospel—that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life on the third day, victorious over sin and death!

But this good news is still bad news if you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.  If you refuse to repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone, you will remain in your sins and death will swallow you up for all eternity.  But if you repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone, you will be swallowed up by new spiritual life in Christ that begins now and lasts for all eternity.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Christians still fear the dying process and may fear death itself from time to time, but consistently and persistently our fear of death has been turned to faith in the One who conquered the grave.

In Christ Alone,
Jeremy Vanatta

(*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations come from the English Standard Version)

God of the Macro and the Micro Worlds

“Who is God and what is He like?”  The answer to these questions will become the foundation on which you build your view of everything.  For example, it determines your views on family, religion, government, and money.  It determines your views on personal and community health too.

Health is always a hot topic, but it’s especially so in view of the COVID-19 pandemic our world is experiencing.  The question, “Who is God and what is He like?”  remains the fundamental question all humanity should be asking whether they realize it or not.

We can’t explore the fullness of God’s identity and character in a short article, but we can certainly summarize the basics in an effort to encourage people of the world to find their salvation in Him.

God Is the Creator of the Universe
Put away your “But what about” and “I don’t believe in God” arguments for 2 minutes and consider two thoughts:

1) The complexity and immensity of the universe requires a Sovereign Designer and the First Cause of all effects.

2) The desire for morality and justice among all human societies requires a Holy Lawgiver.

These two thoughts shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly.  If God is indeed the Creator of all and Holy Lawgiver, this means He’s the Creator of the macro and micro stuff to whom we will be held morally accountable.

Macro Is All the “Big” Stuff
God created the earth and its vast beauty, all the planets, the countless solar systems, and untold billions of stars filling untold billions of galaxies (Gen.1:1-31; Ps.33:6).  The universe is complex and huge!

Micro Is All the “Small” Stuff
God created all the “tiny” stuff too (Gen.1:1-31).  Think of all the tiny particles of sand and dust on the earth.  Think of all the particles of space dust throughout the universe.  Think of all the protons, electrons, neutrons, and even the smallest things we know of thus far, subatomic particles.  Ironically, all the “big” stuff is made up of the “small” stuff.

And then there’s the living creatures.  He created humans and animals, which are tiny compared to most things in the universe.  Even smaller, He created the insects; smaller yet, the earth worms and parasites; smallest of all (that we know about!) the bacteria and viruses.

COVID-19 is part of God’s Creation
No matter how you stack it, coronavirus is one of many microscopic lifeforms created by God.  The question we naturally ask usually goes something like this: “What is God up to in ordaining (or “allowing” if you prefer) this virus to spread, killing some and disrupting the lives of all?”  This is no easy question, but let’s try to answer it as simply as possible.

1)  All suffering and death is the result of man’s sin against God.
Adam and Eve sinned against God, and they immediately experienced spiritual death (Gen.3:1-19).  Spiritual death is the severing of man’s relationship with God and puts man under God’s righteous wrath.  All people since Adam have inherited Adam’s sin nature, meaning we are natural born sinners (Rom.5:12-14; 1 Cor.15:20-22).  Yes, all acts of sin are by our choice; but all our acts of sin are also the result of our inner sin-nature that wants what it wants when it wants it whether it’s right or wrong to want it (Matt.5:21-30; 15:10-20; Rom.1:24-32).

2)  Suffering and death are God’s gracious warnings to prepare us to meet Him in eternity.
In the case of a dangerous viral infection like COVID-19, God is “speaking” loud and clear: “If a virus can do this to ‘self-reliant’ humanity, how much more helpless is humanity before Me, your all-powerful Creator.”  Human suffering and death are God’s gracious opportunity for us to repent of our sin and come back to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ because suffering and death on this earth are nothing compared to the eternal Hell we will face for living in personal rebellion against our Holy Creator.

3)  The only proper response to the reality of suffering and death is repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Whether Christians or not, people tend to respond to suffering and death with one of two errors.  One, “Those suffering and dying deserved what they got, but not me or the people I love.”  Two, “No one deserves to suffer and die.”

But Jesus gives us the only accurate understanding of the truth about suffering and death in Luke 13.

Luke 13:1-5—There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (ESV)

As in the case of Pilate, some suffering and death is the result of wicked men (Lk.13:1-2).  As in the case of the Siloam Tower, some suffering and death is the result of “natural” disasters (Lk.13:4).  In both cases, there’s only one right interpretation of and response to such events by ALL people—Repentance.  Jesus is clear, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk.13:3, 5).

Don’t hear this language of repent as all negative.  It’s actually positive because God loves you and me enough to warn us about the consequences of our sin and is giving us an opportunity to believe on Jesus.  And you’ll know you’ve become a believer when you have a love for Jesus that includes a love for obeying His Word (the Bible) with an obedience that’s by God’s grace through faith (Eph.2:8-10).

So, whether you’re a Christian or not, let’s all examine our lives and repent of sin and trust Jesus Christ fully.  Only then can we face this life’s suffering and death with hope and peace.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Jeremy Vanatta