Given the wandering nature of conversations that happen in the car with a teen, I’m not sure I can set up the context of the question well, but it was something like this:
A book the PK is reading depicts a society that creates a religion around a man-deity that was responsible for building and detonating a weapon that destroyed most of civilization. He is an evil-deity, and most of the teachings of this religion draw from gnostic teachings and some new testament ideas… but turned to the edge of worshiping a divine being that is not about love and reconciliation. One of the ideas is that they embrace death rather than view it as an enemy (citing the Easter cry “O death where is your sting?” as proof that Christians seek victory, thus revealing enmity).
Which led to a discussion of no longer seeing death as an enemy because, after all, the victory was won. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus as Christ means that we no longer need to battle death, so much as the remnants of death that are evidence of the broken, sinful nature of our current home. We are promised the same life of abundant grace and presence after death as we have now.
Then the QOTD: (which apparently many atheists wonder, also)
Why are so many Christians afraid to die?
I’m not even going to try to recreate the rambling, thinking out loud sort of response I came up with. But as my thoughts crystallized it probably comes down to 3 things.
1. We don’t trust GRACE. We talk about choosing Jesus, saying a sinner’s prayer, living a righteous life, following the commandments… none of which sound very dependent upon God. It’s all about us and our choices. Thus, we can choose poorly too often, making us ineligible for heaven. Deep down inside people are pretty sure they aren’t good enough to deserve anything but hell. Which is true. But what they don’t believe deep down is that God’s grace is good enough to cover them.
2. We are individualistic. We have completely lost sight of the reason for the 10 commandments, the Torah and the distillation of all of that in Jesus’ teachings to love God and neighbor. Those rules weren’t set up to make individuals deserving of God’s love. That was part of the covenant. The law was created so that individuals could live in shalom as a community, so that the community could in turn bring the world into shalom. God’s reconciling work with the universe is meant to happen through our loving one another as God loves us- by God’s design, not ours. Making sacrifices, humbling ourselves, caring for others… not so that we might gain as individuals, but to be the Body of Christ together, empowered by the Holy Spirit, revealing the glory of God.
3. We doubt God is real. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Faith is not a feeling or emotion. Nor is it the hard logic of science. It is in that space that our hearts and minds create together – where we experience the unexplainable and attempt to put words to it. That is the beginning of mythos. Stories that almost, but not quite give us what we need to understand this God who creates the cosmos and counts the hairs on our heads, who is three and yet one, who stills tongues and inspires countless words. We will never “prove” God’s existence in the modern sense of the word, but we can embrace the mystery of knowing in a different way. Questions are natural and normal… Giving in to doubt while pretending to believe promotes fear over hope.
To my mind, changing the first two are the best corrective to the third. What do you think?