Death. You hear it in song lyrics. You see it in movies. You learn about it in church. For years, probably since high school, I’ve pondered the philosophical definition of death. I don’t think songs and movies and church all mean the same thing when they say, “death”.
You die, and that’s it. That’s the impression I get from culture. I find myself thinking this way often. I can’t pinpoint exactly how this idea got in my brain. I grew up Christian. It’s not taught there. Often songs, movies and literature reference an afterlife. But the concept seems a permeating assumption in much of culture today.
I wonder if many are confused when they hear Christians talk about death. Talking about the wages of sin being death. About the death of Jesus. About having power over death. Even with being a lifelong Christian I sometimes have to think really hard to remember what all that lingo means.
|An Iris bulb growing.
It means that death does not cause a ceasing of existence. Not spiritually. Not even physically (eventually). Death in Christianity means sin and therefore separation from God. It means the opposite of goodness. It means sickness, angst and destruction. It means brokenness in all of the natural world and all of our relationships.
It means that at the end of what we think of as life a person ceases to be on Earth. The physical body and the spiritual presence separate. In the future, in heaven, our physical body and spiritual presence (soul/spirit/whatever you call it) will be joined again.
Jesus was fully God and fully human and as fully God was without sin and as fully human was still subject to death. Death is a byproduct of sin, not of perfection. Since Jesus died but had no sin-causing requirement to do so, He overcame death. Three days after the separation of His physical body and spiritual presence Jesus was resurrected. Jesus’ body and spiritual presence were joined again. Just as will happen to all humans in the future.
One way I remember this is contemplating nature. Summer, fall, winter, spring. It’s a cycle of life, death and rebirth. I moved into a house once during the winter. Everything in the yard was “dead”. Come spring, all of these flowering bulbs started sprouting out of the ground. It was like these flowers had lived before, died and then were resurrected. Death isn’t a cessation, it’s a separation, a separation that will one day no longer exist.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)