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Thanatopsis

February 1, 2008
by

Heath Ledger is dead. The media has told everyone, and everyone feels a fleeting sorrow.

People in Kenya are being killed.

People in Sudan are being killed.

In this country, since 1973, 46 million children have been murdered through abortion.

Human beings, all over the world, are being killed, whether by fellow humans or by that great equalizer: Death. My question for you, Christian reader: what is your response to death? Do you feel a wave of sadness and move on? Do you shudder and say, “Wow, how terrible?”

Or do you, as a cynic, shrug off death as a fact of life, as if it were natural.

Death is the ultimate futility in this life. When Adam took the apple, God told him that he would die. Did he? Not right away, but he introduced death into our world.

Death is unnatural. Death is a stealer, the final blow of our earthly fallen nature. Do you see death as wrong, ripping, horrific, perverted? If not, I would ask if statistics have seared your soul. Have you read so much about death, seen so many depictions of it on television, breathed in the reports of millions and taken death for granted?

Christ came to save us from death–both spiritual and physical, in the sense that the physical death no longer has sting for the Christian. However, we must not fail to mourn with those grieving the death of a loved one. We must never allow globalized statistics  to cover our consciences.

Billions of people live in this world. Many will die before they truly hear the name of Christ. Christ who came to save them from death. Christ who is the Savior who died–died–for our sins. But Death had no claim on him, for he had never sinned. Without sin, how could he remain dead? God raised him, and he now rules at the right hand of the Father. How glorious is our Savior, who took our sin, our death, upon himself, so that we could live forever, and not fear death like we otherwise should. Were I not a Christian, I would fear death, because it is the ultimate expression of our fallen state before God. We sinned. We must die. Our bodies are frail, and death lies everywhere.

But because death lies everywhere, we should earnestly pray for Christ’s return to right this world from its jarring sin-devoured state.  We must lament with those who are dying.

Let us never become accustomed to sin.

Let us never become accustomed to death.

The title of this post comes from a poem by the same title written by William Cullen Bryant. It is Greek, and basically translates “Meditation on Death.”

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