. . . posts on faith and life
There are few things more fundamentally Christian than facing death, both physically and metaphorically. Jesus spoke of his death as necessary in order to bear fruit; “”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The Apostle Paul spoke of his ministry as something that required him to ‘die daily’ (1 Cor 15:31). Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Jesus calls us, he bids us come and die.” The list goes on.
Certainly each of us should challenge ourselves individually with this spiritual discipline of death. However, what is on my mind at the moment is this question: Why are we (that is, the church) so afraid of OUR death? Death is a gift (as Derrida noted). Death bears fruit (as Jesus noted). Death is our calling (as Bonhoeffer noted). When we sense Jesus calling us to die we should understand that as an opportunity to more fully become who we are called to be. Why would we try to run from it?
In recent years it seems that the church in Western culture has been facing its death. It would also seem that the response of the church has been anything but Christian. Our attempts to revamp ourselves is an ironic stumbling block, as it hinders our ability to find life after death. The prophet Isaiah once said, “You are wearied in the length of your way; Yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You have found the life of your hand; Therefore you were not grieved” (Is. 57:10). We could say it this way: You are exhausted from all of your strategies, but you will not give up and die. Therefore you continue in your own strength, and do not see this as a problem.
If we are called to die I wonder what a collective death would look like? And I dare to dream what our life after our death would look like too!