I didn't wake up this morning thinking about today's topic. But someone emailed me this quote by Martin Luther King: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
I know what he means, of course. He's not talking about the end of life; he's not talking about death. He's talking about moral cowardice and failure.
Death, real Death, is deeper than that...deeper than moral failure on our part. More insidious. More deadly (if I can use "death" to define "death").
Biologically, our lives begin their trek toward death the moment we are conceived. Yes, I recognize that at conception rapid growth occurs. Our cells multiply and divide more prolifically at that point than ever again. But if I consider life as a "time" thing, that we live in "time", that each moment in time is a moment closer to our death, then I recognize that my march toward death began the moment I began life...at conception.
The moment of death comes to us in many ways. Some live a "natural" lifespan and die of old age. Some die premature, violent deaths. Some linger long and painfully as some disease or bodily dysfunction ends their living days. Somehow we see natural death as "better" than dying prematurely by accident or disease. We see painless death as "better" than a death that comes painfully. We see certain deaths as tragic and senseless while we view other deaths as normal or natural.
But it is really not the manner of death that is so terrible. The tragedy, the human tragedy, is that we die at all! That death exists! That death awaits all!
It behooves us, then, to take into consideration where and when death entered into the world.
The Bible tell us "The wages of sin is death...", Romans 6:23.
If that is so, then which of my sins causes my death? The one I committed yesterday? The day before? The first time I deliberately chose wrong over right? Which Sin? And if it is sinful action on the part of the individual that brings that individual's death, then what about that newborn infant? The one who took two breaths and died. What sin did that infant commit that was worthy of death?
In regards to myself, some might answer that it is all my sins that bring about my death. That I am guilty of all. And that is true. I am guilty of all my sins. So in a sense I could say that all my sins cause my death. (Remember...as a Christian, I also am completely aware of and thankful for the forgiveness that Christ gives at the Cross.)
Death entered into the world long before I was conceived and born. I'm talking about the death that we are born into. Read Genesis, Chapter 3. My death comes about because of Adam's sin. It is Adam's sin that brought death into the world...to himself, to his posterity, and to all the animal kingdom. Death reigned in Adam. He entered into a condition of death. And as his children we are conceived already entering into death.
The Bible speaks more about death, though, and gives us promise. It tells us that while in Adam we die, in Christ we live. (Romans 5:12-20). It also says that death will someday be destroyed (Rev. 20:14) and that death will not have the victory (1 Corinthians 15:55).
As Christians we can have confidence that death is not the end, that death will not have the victory, that we have life in Christ.
Dennis Ngien, in Christianity Today, puts it this way... "While we should be aware daily of the inevitable reality of death, we can live as those who have been freed from the curse and sting of death. Luther wisely reminds us to ponder "the heavenly picture of Christ," for in Christ, we have passed from death to life. Death is no death to the believers whose lives are hidden with Christ in God."
Today I am serious.