The story goes that a couple (George, age 92, and Jane, age 89) was excited about their decision to get married. One day they went for a stroll to discuss their wedding plans, and on the way they passed a drugstore. They turned around, entered the store, and George asked to speak to the owner. “We’re about to get married,” George informed him. “Do you sell heart medication?” “Of course we do,” the owner replied. “What about medicine for rheumatism, osteoporosis, and arthritis?” George continued. “All kinds,” said the owner with confidence. “How about waterproof furniture covers and Depends?” “Yes, sir.” George kept going: “Hearing aid and denture supplies, and reading glasses?” “We sell it all George.” George pressed on: “What about eye drops, sleeping pills, Geritol, and Ensure?” “Absolutely.” “Do you sell wheelchairs, walkers, and canes?” Puzzled, the owner replied “All kinds and sizes…but why all these questions?” George smiled proudly and announced, “We’d like to use your store as our bridal registry.”
I think we would all agree that the aging process changes our priorities! And if we are honest, it goes beyond that: for many of us aging can be difficult, even disheartening. Look at how the author of Ecclesiastes describes the affects of old age: “Your limbs will tremble with age, and your strong legs will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to do their work, and you will be blind, too…Even the chirping of birds will wake you up. But you yourself will be deaf and tuneless, with a quavering voice. You will be afraid of heights and of falling, white-haired and withered, dragging along without any sexual desire. And you will be standing at death’s door…” (Eccesiastes12:3—5, NLT).
While it may not be immediately apparent, what we have here is a depiction of one of the four enemies of the Christian life: known in the scientific realm as the second law of thermodynamics or entropy. To put more simply, decay and death. That is, everything falls apart, everything declines unto death. It is the fate of animals, humans and even civilization itself.
The truth is we are all fighting a battle we will ultimately lose. Now, this reality oftentimes leads people to go in one of two directions: either nihilistic despair (“nothing matters”) or hedonism (“eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”).
However, Christ-followers don’t fall into those traps. In fact, they can face decay and death with courage and dignity. Why? The first reason is because Christ-followers know that one day God will restore our bodies and our world. According to Revelation chapters 21—22, there will be a new heaven and new earth: the Apostle John says “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…He who was seated on the throne said ‘I am making everything new!’ ” (21:2,5).
The restoration of our bodies and our world is possible because Jesus Christ conquered death by rising from the dead and ascending into heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God, ruling over the world. 1 Corinthians 15 asserts that because Christ rose from the dead and received a restored body, those in Christ shall do the same.
Now, some people have misunderstood these passages. They think that Christianity is too escapist, a kind of “fantasy faith,” where God wants us to persevere through this life as we wait “for pie in the sky, bye and bye.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Author and Pastor Tim Keller contends that Christianity is one of the most materialistic (grounded in material reality) religions in the world because God affirms the goodness of this world: he is not going to throw it away and start over. Rather he is going to renew it and restore it.
Yet our future places our current circumstances into a larger perspective because there is coming a day when “There will be no more death or mourning of crying or pain [or wrinkles, or osteoporosis, arthritis, etc] for the old order of things [will have] passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
In my next post I will share a second reason Christ-followers can face decay and death with courage and dignity.