by Dr. Brad Strait, Lead Pastor of CCPC
How do you feel about mortality?
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” (Genesis 4:6-11)
Death enters the Bible early, in Genesis chapter 4. A chapter earlier, disobedience has brought “the Fall” and humanity is on a downward swirl. Still, human beings are obeying God’s command to ‘be fruitful and increase in number’ and their offspring hold the image of God. But the power of death now roams, too. Robert Vaughan writes,
“The writer of Genesis stresses that just as Adam was created in the ‘likeness of God’, so his son Seth was in his ‘likeness’ (verses 1–3). But it is a marred image. Human beings also bear the marks of sin. As a result, just as in chapter 4 sin was passed down to the next generation, so we find in chapter 5 that its consequence, death, is also inherited. Those early humans may have lived for many years, but a refrain that runs through the chapter reminds us that they were mortal: ‘and then he died…and then he died…and then he died…’ (verses 5, 8, 11, etc.). We do all we can to blunt the harsh reality of death. We even try to avoid mentioning the word. I heard recently of a hospital in America that refers to death as ‘negative patient care outcome’. But, for all our euphemisms, we cannot avoid death. It comes to us all.”
Negative patient care outcome. We are under the shadow of physical death. It is a truism—death and taxes are certain. We can fear it or avoid thinking about it, but in this season of Covid-19—we are perpetually reminded of it. Mortality statistics are the rage.
But avoiding death is not the real goal.
For people of faith, through Jesus death holds no long-term power over us. But I think the real enemy is not living. Barbara Brown Taylor writes so wisely:
God does not care whether I am happy or not. What God cares about, with all the power of God’s holy being, is the quality of my life…not just the continuation of my breath and the health of my cells — but the quality of my life, the scope of my life, the heft and zest of my life. Fear of death always turns into fear of life, into a stingy, cautious way of living that is not really living at all. To follow Jesus means going beyond the limits of our own comfort and safety. It means receiving our lives as gifts instead of guarding them as possessions.”
Lord, help us to push into life, rather than cowering from death. You can watch over us, even when “death” is the news lead on every channel. We are in your hand. Amen.
Daily Devos is a daily blog that gives insight and encouragement into this troubling season of Social Distancing due to Covid-19.
Jesus is the answer to lasting hope in this time, and we can live unafraid.
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