Tuesday 14th December 2021
Title: The ultimate destination of life
By: Pastor Andrew Lim
Seeing death as a taboo(人看死亡为禁忌 )
Death is the final stop in the journey of life. No human could escape death. A human being’s perception of death is different from that of God. A person would think of death as a mystery – painful, destructive, and empty. People tend to feel helpless and despair at the prospect of death, but it does not disappear. Once they meet death, it is obvious to see the ensuing frantic scuffle with it and to see them being trapped under the deep-rooted fear of death. Recently, as a result of the pandemic, the death number keeps unceasingly rising, and even though one fears death, one does not have the choice but to face it and ponder upon the afterlife.
The reason behind the fear of death is mainly because of its uncertainty and unfathomableness. Even though many understand that death is a natural occurrence, but the mere thought of it would trigger an unnatural feeling of fear and anxiety and some cold sweat – no matter their disbeliefs, ignorance or stubborn scepticism – at the back of their minds, those fears would sit there and be like a tiger waiting to leap at its preys. Thus, because of this fear, Chinese people have conjured up a variety of words and expressions to describe events or moments relating to death such as善終 – blessed ending、走了 – left/gone、归天 – returned to heaven、回苏州卖咸鸭蛋了 – returned to Suzhou to sell salted duck egg、仙逝 – immortal death、千古 – turned eternal、安息 – rest in peace、香消玉殒 – The fragrance diminished and the jade perished — death of a pretty woman、天年不测 – the unexpected in heavenly age、长眠不起 – a never-ending sleep、含笑九泉 – laughing down the nine springs、与世长辞 – say goodbye to the world、寿终正寝 – a natural death 、天人永隔 – the eternal separation between the heavenly being and man. The main point of all these sayings and expressions is to avoid mentioning the word “death”.
The world sees the end of life
The end of life is a heavy and solemn topic. Although many would understand it as a natural occurrence, they would refuse to have that in their thoughts and would avoid it. But no one – not a single mortal – could avoid it. An adolescent at his/her peak of youth is not willing to consider that very thought of death nor would that kind of thought pass through his/her mind. A middle-aged person having realised the gradual loss of his youthfulness and the advent of age which gradually dawns upon him would occasionally feel a keen sense of fear thereof and would deliberately steer clear of that kind of thought. An elderly person, on the other hand, would adopt a kind of hesitant and close-one-eye approach to this problem, realising the impending moment is closer than ever. Any religion would do its best to provide answers to the ultimate question of the existence of life.
Although mortals avoid mentioning death, fear it, refuse to face it, have a gripping sense of fear for it, none could avoid the angel of death and the ultimate end of their lives. Their souls could never return to this current life. In perspective, all human beings are equal before death; even the richest or most the powerful person in the world, the kings or peasants, the rich or poor , all will face death when their times come. No one could avoid it. As life leaves their flesh and bones, their souls would either ascend to heaven or descend to Hades.
Seeing death as sleep, preparing for resurrection(看死亡为睡眠，预备复活)
However, Christians do not perceive death as how the world perceive it. We believe that when a person passes away, according to Scriptures, “all go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”. We bury the dead brothers/sisters in Christ together with flowers as if to celebrate. It is indeed a momentous occasion to celebrate – to celebrate a move of a soul belonging to God from this realm to another greater realm, just like the birth of a child from the uterus to a beautiful earth!
Scriptures say that “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”. This verse could be illustrated like this: during a family outing, suddenly a venomous bee found its way into the car buzzing around and the children were shrieking in fear. The father in protecting his children used his bare hands to capture the bee and was stung badly. Then the father said, “children, now you don’t have to fear because the bee’s stinger is already in my hands”. Lord Jesus through His holiness and perfect innocence became a sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ are no longer bound to the poison of death nor would it have any effect on them. That is the reason why those who trust and believe in the Lord no longer fear death and could live fruitful lives. For a Christian, death is just a sleep for the Bible says ” 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. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. “
Therefore, Christians are not afraid of death. Death is not the end, but a beginning of my new life. Pan Huo Hua ( 潘霍华 )
In Christ Jesus, we can know the ending of life. We can know the meaning of our existence and the ultimate path of life. For people like us who have inherited the eternal life, our death naturally is just a temporary rest. This knowledge and understanding enables us to live with peace and comfort and an expectation for the eternity. Such knowledge can foster a different mindset in us in facing painful and difficult moments such as the loss of our beloved or any sufferings or even death itself. Although we still have some lingering fear of death, we can rejoice for the promise of eternal lives because we look forward to the eternity. This will influence the choice we make.
Dear Father, our lives are like backpackers or travellers – everything we have today is so temporary and transient. But we are thankful that we met and could know You in our lifetime and inherit your gift of eternal life. Because of that, everything we do in our current lives embodies some value for the eternity. We pray that you let us know with your wisdom how to sow the seeds now for the sake of your eternal kingdom.
Our sincere prayer is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!
作者 : 林金儀傳道
人看死亡为禁忌 Seeing death as taboo
The world sees the end of life
Seeing death as sleep, preparing for resurrection
圣经上说，“按着定命，人人都有一死，死后且有审判。” 就如一个父亲带着孩子们开车出去游玩，忽然一只蜜蜂飞进车子里，孩子们都害怕惊叫。父亲就特地用手去捉住蜜蜂，被蜜蜂狠狠地蜇了一下。然后父亲说，孩子们，现在你们不用再害怕了，因为蜜蜂的毒针在我的手里了。耶稣以祂的圣洁无罪却代替我们成为罪，为我们的罪，代替我们死亡，于是死亡的毒钩对于在耶稣基督里的人就不再有任何作用了。所以相信上帝的人对死亡将坦然无惧，不再恐惧，并活出一个丰盛的生命。所以对基督徒来说，死亡是睡了，“论到睡了的人，像那些没有指望的人一样，主必亲自从天降临，有神的号吹响。那在基督里死了的人必先复活。”所以基督徒不害怕死亡。死亡不是终结，这是我新生命的开始 ( 潘霍华 )