Sally had been a teenager in a church I once pastored, and her parents were dear friends. Her father, a former Marine, is in Heaven now, and her mother, now in the care of Hospice, is having a little trouble coming to terms with her own impending departure.
I sent the mom a note by Sally, suggesting that she read it to her.
The note to her mother and my Facebook note said: “If we could interview a baby in the mother’s womb about to be born, we might find that he/she is frightened by what lies ahead. It’s about to leave the only world it has known–warm, soft, safe–and emerge into a strange unfamiliar world with people it doesn’t know, who all speak an unintelligible language. To the baby, it would be death. But to everyone else, it’s a birth. When you get to Heaven, you will look back and say, ‘I was afraid of THAT?!’”
Had there been room on Facebook, I would have added something more. So, two hours later, we tacked on the following:
“The Apostle Paul literally taunts death. ‘O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?’ (I Corinthians 15:55) In college football, he would be flagged for showboating. Followers of Jesus Christ, you are not allowed to fear death. To do so insults the One who went to the cross and experienced the grave for you. Laugh at death. Like a honeybee that has lost its stinger, death still flies around scaring people, but it can’t do you any permanent damage.”
For a Christian to fear death is to insult the Lord Jesus Christ.
I suppose the biblical word for this would be “blasphemy.” But since that word is used almost exclusively in theological realms and associated with falling from grace and incurring God’s wrath, and not something we speak of in our everyday life, I’d just as soon not conjure up images of the Inquisition.
We are not talking about apostasy here. Just poor discipleship.