Coming up Against Death
Now long ago I quoted C.S. Lewis as once saying, “In God you come up against something, which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that and therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison, you do not know God at all.” As I thought more about this statement, I began to wonder why more people do not have this experience of coming up against God. Then it dawned on me that there was at least one prerequisite that a person would have to meet before they experience coming up against God.
That prerequisite of coming against God is for one to come up against his own death, which is the one thing the majority of man cannot face. To face it, is to face the abyss of meaningless and hopelessness. To avoid this encounter with death, men busy themselves with work and intellectual pursuits. Some of the more powerful ones actually spend a large part of their lives trying to overcome or delay death by diet, exercise, and medical science. All this creates the illusion that they are in control. Others hide from the shadow of death in some cause which enables them to find meaning and purpose, i.e., religion. In all this, they are attempting to avoid the question of whether or not, if your life ends in meaninglessness, can it have any meaning in the presence.
This brings us to ask, is it more intelligent and courageous to face death without faith, or is it just intellectual foolishness? We might rearrange the question. Is it more intelligent to live an existence of hope and meaning or one of meaninglessness and denial? If you are an atheist, you probably are saying, wait a minute. It is the believer who denies death. At least that is what you have been taught, but is that true? The truth is that death is denied by all men, which means that it is man’s nature to deny it. You are a probably at this point denying your denial. However, be honest about how often you actually consciously think about your own death, and when you do, how long do you dwell on it? You say that is morbid. No, it is reality and no matter how much you try to deny your awareness of it, death forces its way in. Even at the party it whispers that it all must end. So we push its awareness to the recesses of our minds, i.e., the subconscious. Some repress the thought of death to the point that they think and talk as though we were immortal. For anyone to believe that he does not practice this denial is simply nonsense and is nothing more than denial itself.
If death is natural, why does mankind deny it? As a Christian, I do not believe that death is completely natural. Christians believe that God created man for life, not death. So for the Christian, it is not surprising that man fears death to the point of denying it. However, the Christian believes that the correct way to deal with death is through faith in God. In fact, a true acceptance of death will lead one to faith. That is why for many men, the journey toward God begins with the coming up against death. After that they must come up against the true God. You must face your mortality before you can face God.
The problem with all of this is that it takes courage to face life, death, and God. However, where does the courage come from and how can we obtain it? I personally believe that courage comes from faith, a faith that life is greater than death. This kind of faith does not come from believing in the finite, for the finite is subject to death, and therefore, can only impart a delusion of courage based upon a falsehood that the finite can overcome death. All that is finite is under the power of death. Death can only be overcome by that which stands above the finite; that is, the infinite. How do you obtain that faith in the infinite? It is easy once you face the fact that you are finite and that without the infinite, the finite is meaningless and without hope. As soon as you reach this place, you have come up against death and after that, and only then, are you able to come up against the true God. If you have come up against death and want to know more about the next step in finding God, please contact me.
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