Approaching Uselessness

We all need some sense of purpose. While we are still a part of this life, we will find purpose in many things: being a parent, having a job, even just entertaining ourselves. As we approach death and sometimes even before, a person can lose their sense of purpose. Things like a job loss, the death of a loved one or a steep decline in our own health will do that.

If one is facing death with no hope in Christ to have life after death with God, then you have a double downer. Death offers nothing but a false sense of relief and life offers nothing because it is a struggle to feel useful and there is no pleasure in living.

I have met people in this position. It’s the worst. I propose that you never have to be there. What God promises us by a connection to Jesus is real. It is not wishful thinking to make us feel better as we face our mortality. The evidence includes prophecies about Jesus, the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, eyewitnesses who willing faced death, critics who came to faith, the persistent survival of the Gospel message despite various forms of persecution, people who have had Near Death Experiences, and our own ability to see God at work in us.

When we have a connection to Jesus (just trust the promise of forgiveness and be baptized) then faith can grow to absolute certainty about what comes next. We can approach our own death with expectant joy. It like anticipating the best day ever.

We can also deal with our own physical decline in a new way. A critical Bible passage about living is Ephesians 2:10:

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Two assurances pop out of this passage. First, that we are an ongoing project of God. God is shaping us through learning, positive experiences, and even negative experiences. This shaping continues right up to the end of this life. Why? Because there is more to come. Our negative, end-of-life experiences are not useless experiences. Second, that God has a wide array of purposes for us that also continue to the end of this life.

We may lose certain forms of usefulness along the way: we retire, our kids grow up, we have a stroke and can’t speak, etc. Purpose doesn’t end, it just shifts. Even if all we can do is pray, we have a powerfully influential tool in our hands. Use it.

What if our brain gets so demented that we can’t pray? I’m not sure this happens, but if so, our presence may fulfill God’s purpose in some way. When we are finally done, then we are out of here. We don’t need to unnaturally extend our stay here.

Is eternal life like a perpetual vacation? There are clues to ongoing, productive purpose in eternity as well. I expect there is a great deal of leisure and partying, however. Never boredom. Never uselessness. I can’t say the same for the damned.

If you are struggling with the purpose of your life or if you know somebody like this, share this article. I know that it is hard to see past your immediate loss or situation. There is hope–most excellent hope. There is also a new way to look at life and it isn’t a game.

Unprepared

Typically, when we say that somebody is prepared to die, we mean they are aware that their death is imminent; they have said their goodbyes, they have put their financial affairs in order, and they are just waiting. That is a very superficial way of thinking about death. From all that I have written about in this blog, being prepared is actually having a saving connection to Jesus. When you have Jesus, you may not wish to die, but you are ready.

If we think about our own mortality at all, we expect to die in the distant future. Even some people who are very advanced in years think of death as distant. They expect to have more time. Is this smart?

Think about how death can come unplanned. There was yet another senseless mass shooting in our country this weekend. People gunned down at a parade. It happens often enough that we become numb to the news. If we didn’t see it in person, it seems surreal. This is real. You will die. I have known people in seemingly great health die suddenly–a triple A (arterial aortic aneurysm), also known as the “widow-maker”. It may or may not be when you are old and welcome the departure. It may or may not be when you are prepared. It is best to always be prepared.

Again, I am unconcerned as to whether you have a will or burial plans. I am talking about Jesus. Don’t just expect that death will go well for all. The toughest news to accept from the Bible is the revelation that for most, death will not go well.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)

“Life” in this passage means eternal existence with God, the Creator of all good things. “Destruction” is actually worse than is sounds. It doesn’t mean ceasing to exist. It means existence forsaken by God. It is unthinkable. So we don’t think about it.

Perhaps Jesus has a special way to deal with people who never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Let us hope that this is true. The clear message of the Bible is that we need Jesus, because all of us are sinners. We need Him now, because neither life nor death is predictable. We don’t want to be unprepared.

I realize that this article is quite a downer. It doesn’t have to be, not entirely. I don’t fret about dying. I’m more upset about getting old. I want to do much more in this life and accomplish much more for the Kingdom of God. I am willingly to stick it out as long as God can use me and in whatever condition. But if death comes early, I am very happy about what God has promised me. I am excited to see what God has promised. I am satisfied with what God has accomplished through me to this point. If there is no more, that’s fine. It is very liberating to be prepared. Understanding life after death (what it is like, why we can have it or not) is very empowering.

Why not be prepared?

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