FEAR OR HUNGER FOR LIFE?
There are those people who like to tell us that the reason Christians believe in life after death and then later, resurrection from the dead is simply because they're afraid of dying. I'm going to take it that Aristotle was correct, our convictions are shaped by our feelings [pathos] as well as other things and if that's true [and I don't doubt it] then I suppose fear would help feed the believer's conviction about life after death and a subsequent resurrection to glorious life without end. It doesn't trouble me a bit that little humans are afraid of things or that they worry over some matters. Why should it? Shakespeare had his Shylock say this kind of thing, "Do we not bleed when we're cut? Do we not hurt when we suffer great loss...?
Fear isn't an isolated and solitary reality--it exists as part of a larger complex and multifaceted reality.
Fear isn't always a bad thing. It builds strong houses, hospitals and such; it puts lifeboats on ocean-going ships, safety equipment on airplanes, establishes laws to govern communities, generates medical and scientific research; it makes protective clothing, puts guards up in places where little children might get burned or fall or otherwise get hurt and [sadly but of necessity in many ways] it builds prisons. You make your own list.
In all these things it isn't just fear that's at work! Love of life, love of family, love of neighbor, love of health, love of social freedoms, love of quiet and peaceful lives are part of the picture. The loving parent buys a fireguard to protect a little child not only because she's afraid the child could be hurt; she does it because she loves the child; her fear rises out of love.
So it is with those who believe in and follow the Lord Jesus Christ . In all the ways that God brings to us the truth of the gospel believers come to know Jesus Christ and the more they get to know and admire him the more they know that a little life like ours isn't big enough to truly get to know him. We sometimes come to realize that even human loves are too wonderful to come to their full potential in a lovely life that flies by like the wind. Cowper adored a cousin of his, Lady Hesketh, and he wrote her a note telling her that a love such as theirs was too wonderful to come to fulness in a tiny little life like this and therefore, he said, "I am, and will be, and must be your friend forever."
The little alien many of us came to know as E.T. in the movie of that name had a marvelous friendship with the little boy, a boy who would gladly give his life for E.T. But for all that, there was more that called to him than earth could offer and so we hear him again and again poignantly and longingly say, "Home!"
Maybe for all their faults and mixed emotions we should credit believers with more than cowardice. Perhaps, as Henry Sloane Coffin reminded us, Christians have come to admire God as we see him in Jesus Christ and so they seek his purpose for the human family. Though not the only ones, Christians long for a better world, a kinder world, a world they know can only be brought about by God and in his own way, a way that includes their commitment to that purpose, as God's helpers. Knowing that the world he purposes is in so many ways and at such a depth unlike the one they see at present they want to live to see it renewed. They believe what William James said, that there is something wild about the universe and we are needed to make it right.
In seeing Jesus as God's self-revelation and being taken by his commitment and the glory of it all they want to be a part of the adventure and knowing it will not be renewed in their fleeting lives they don't wish to die and forever miss the beauty. And because they know this is the work of God that climaxes in Jesus they believe they were not meant to die forever!
And so they confidently believe in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and therefore in their own and the new world that is coming.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.