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
(世人看人生的结局)
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!

班底浸信教会
每日灵粮
星期二, 2021年12月14日
标题:人生最终的归宿
作者 : 林金儀傳道
翻译:陈劲年姐妹
 
人看死亡为禁忌  Seeing death as taboo
 
死是人生命的终点,人类最终逃脱不了死亡的命运,人认为的死亡和上帝所认为的死亡是不一样的。世人会认为死亡为神秘、痛苦、幻灭与虚无的;人們對於死亡顯得惶惶無措,但是,死亡從未來消失,一旦與它相遇時,明顯会倉皇失措,恐懼不安。近期因为冠状病毒的肆虐,死亡的人数不断攀升人就是怕死,也不得不面对死,思想死亡后的世界。
 
人之所以对死亡觉得害怕是因为对死有不确定性和未知性。尽管许多人都会说“人死如灯灭,但是一想到死就会有一种莫名的恐惧。尽管有人不知、有人不信或不想知,但人们还是对死亡是心存余悸、惶惶不安,冥冥之中感觉到死亡是有一种令人恐怖的东西存在。所以华人对死亡及臨終用了不同的字句、善終、走了、归天、回苏州卖咸鸭蛋了、仙逝、千古、安息、香消玉殒、天年不测、长眠不起、含笑九泉、与世长辞、寿终正寝、天人永隔。就是尽量封口,总之就是不要讲出死亡这两个字。
 
世人看人生的结局
The world sees the end of life
 
人生的结局是一个沉重的话题,虽然很多人都会认为说:人死如灯灭,但是通常都是不愿意想这个问题,或回避这个问题,但每个人又无法回避。年轻人正值青春年华,不愿意也不会想到归途和结局、中年人青春已逝,老之将至,心里时不时会划过一丝惶恐的情绪,会尽量回避这个问题、老年人觉得自己已经进入“日薄西山”,对这个问题,抱着一种无眼睇或睁一只眼,闭一只眼的态度。任何一种宗教都会力图回答人存在的终极性问题
 
世人虽然避忌死、怕死、不想死,对死倉皇失措,恐懼不安而不谈。但是却没有人可以逃避死亡的命运以及生命的终结,生命的最后终结:即灵魂再也不能回到现世的生命中来。死亡对于所有人都是平等的,即使是尘世最高的掌权者,时间到了归宿也依然是阴府,无论是君王或百姓、富者或穷者同样死去。无论是如何回避,结局无非只有一个,随着生命的死亡,灵魂飞向天堂或进入地狱。
 
看死亡为睡眠,预备复活
Seeing death as sleep, preparing for resurrection
 
基督徒相信死亡并不像世人所想象的那样恐怖,我们所相信的是:当一个人离开世界就像圣经所说:尘归尘,土归土,把死者与花一同埋,并认为死亡是一个值得庆祝的重大时刻——是从一个世界到转换到另一个世界。就像婴孩从子宫里,出到美好的世界里面。
 
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 )
 
在基督里,我们可以知道人生的结局,知道了人生的归宿,对拥有永生的我们来说,自然死亡不过是短暂的休息。这可以让我们安心在世上的生活,并且可以心怀永远的盼望。这能让我们以不同的心境面对艰难时刻,如痛失至亲,或自己面临各类痛苦甚至死亡。虽然,我们仍会畏惧死亡,但我们却能因今世得永生的应许而欢欣喜乐;因为放眼永恒,而影响了我们今世选择要走的道路。
 
亲爱的上帝,我们的人生就如背包客或过客,我们现今所擁有一切的都是那么的短暂,但’感恩的是,我们在有生之年认识了您,从而得到了永生的生命,因此今生所做的一切从此具有了永恒的价值。求您让我们晓得如何在世上有智慧为永生经营。诚心祷告是奉主耶稣基督的名,阿们!