A guest blog post from Crosspoint’s Worship and Communications Intern, Chris Garcia…
We are undoubtably experiencing a world-changing, lockdown-inducing, all-inclusive global catastrophe. As I write, over half of a million people in the United States are confirmed to be carrying a virus of which we still have no cure. The economic recession due to the pandemic will certainly cause other issues further down the line. Even just doing some quick Google searches to find these numbers brings on prickles of anxiety. The question of ‘What’s going to be restricted or cancelled?’ has shifted into ‘When am I going to be able to visit my parents?’ or, ‘When is it safe to…’ and you can fill in the blank. This is a big problem. Maybe it’s better to describe it as a whole stack of problems that are connected to other problems which are effected by my problems which are plainly related to your problems in a big syrupy mess that covers the whole pile. Worst. Pancake stack. Ever.
Despite the tragedies that have occurred over the past month, I want to clear some things up for whoever is reading this. And it’s going to cost some blunt honesty from your end and mine.
COVID-19 is not the problem.
The Coronavirus is a problem, no doubt, but it is not the problem. Rather, it’s more of a reminder, or a magnifying glass over an unsolvable dilemma that has faced mankind ever since the dawn of our existence; Death.
Epidemics are not a 21st century problem. Situations like this have happened before and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing people make that point. But let’s be honest for a minute here, our biggest fear is not the Coronavirus. No one is afraid of the microscopic ball — 80 billionths of a meter in diameter — rolling around in peoples’ sneezes and coughs. The symptoms aren’t even our biggest fear (although they can be extremely painful for some). The label of the sickness is what we like to name and panic over, but it is the result of this kind of sickness that we truly fear in the depths of our being. We are afraid to die.
This virus forces everyone on planet Earth to come face to face with their mortality, or at least the mortality of others and loved ones. I know it’s difficult to think about, but especially during times like these we’ve each reflected on the reality that we don’t live forever. And if that’s not comforting enough, here’s the real kicker: No one knows what happens after you stop living.
Why is it that a child needs to be taught the concept of death but not life? Why do we clench up when the protagonist who was rescued out of the water isn’t breathing for a while, and then we relax when he starts choking up water gasping for air? Because we have no concept of what happens after life. If the protagonist dies, we know that it’s too late, or that he’s “gone”. Gone to where? Maybe you’ve heard a child ask that question. We probably tell them ‘a better place’ and hope they don’t ask again.
Death is so unknown. It has been ever since people started dying, and no one’s lived to tell the tale.
COVID-19 only confirms and magnifies the inevitable for all people, whether or not you end up with this virus. It suggests the temporary truth of this life.
Even after this is all over, there will be other tragedies, deaths, or events that will remind us again of our inevitable end. I can’t wait until we come out of this pandemic and for things to get better, but if ‘better’ really just means that my life and the lives I care about have been prolonged from having to think about death for a while longer, that’s… a strange reality.
And frankly, we shouldn’t be thinking about death all the time. We shouldn’t live in fear of when life is over. If we dwell on this stuff all the time, we’ll end up really depressed.
Well, gee, thanks for making me sad for nothing then, Chris.
Why do I bring this up?
Because I want to talk about someone. I want to share the reason why COVID-19 doesn’t change anything about my life other than my circumstances. I want to talk about someone who died and came back.
Two thousand years ago, a man who’d been causing quite the stir in Galilee and Judea was brought before Pontius Pilate, a governor of Rome. The Jews in Jerusalem were enraged with this man and they yelled for Pontius to have him crucified. This guy claimed to be the King of the Jews, and they were not having it. Pilate tried getting things strait with the man since the charge put against him seemed pretty outlandish, but the man only confirmed that the Jews were right in what they were saying about him. Still not reason enough for the governor to hang him on a cross though. The crowds refused to let him walk free, and Pilate ended up giving in and handing the man over to them.
So they nailed him up on a cross along with two other criminals and it was a big public affair. People spat on him, made fun of him, dressed him up in nice clothes and beat him until they got tired. They flogged him too. It was gruesome. If you wanna know more details, read the end of Luke or Matthew’s account of the event. There are no accounts of the man actually committing any crimes that would constitute death by a cross, and yet the people wanted him dead so bad that it ended up playing out like that anyways.
Of course, the man died, along with the other two who hung near him. Even if he was somehow able to keep breathing up on the cross, the extremities and blood loss from his wounds would’ve done him in.
I’m talking about Jesus as many of you could guess. And the next part is where a lot of people don’t buy in. Understandably so. As I’ve already pointed out, death gets us all. It’s over.
Unless Jesus wasn’t only a man. But actually God Himself.
Two thousand years later, people all over the world have still been proclaiming that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day of his death. Not in some hoax type of way, but that he actually conquered death. Many of his disciples witnessed and recorded seeing Him after they found his tomb empty. But the crazy news doesn’t end there, because his death on the cross wasn’t just a tragic scene or an accident, He actually died so that we don’t have to. He died for you. That you might be saved by believing in Him — believing that He actually did it — and gain eternal life. There’s no way a man could come back to life after that amount of time unless he was actually God and man. If it’s true that He is resurrected, then all the things He said about Himself are validated.
He said that he and God the Father are one. Sounds like nonsense to me. Unless He could do something that proves it. I believe He did. In fact, I’m fairly certain that He did. I’d much rather go by the people who wrote about the event than the people who want to say it didn’t happen and weren’t there.
I am not afraid of death, in the sense that it has absolutely no power, control, or force over me.
Because Jesus conquered it for me. He bore the consequences of this fallen world. A world that He created good but then we messed up in our pride and sinfulness. And sin has to die. Evil has to die in the end. And it will. Jesus’ death and resurrection assures us that it will.
I could go on and on and on about the benefits received in believing and following Christ, but I can’t do it all here. Just know this:
Death is not an end. This is not a coping mechanism. This is not a fanatical denial of pain and sorrow that comes with deep loss. Jesus Himself wept over one of His friends dying.
Death is not an end. The God who created the universe made a way for you to be in fellowship with Him.
Because He loves you.
If you’ve never thought about this before or at least in a long time, good. Maybe now’s a good time to reflect. He loves you. Not because of anything you’ve done either.
If you’ve already put your faith in our Living Hope, I hope this is encouraging. Share it. Doesn’t have to be this post specifically, just tell someone you know that Jesus died and rose again, and that they can live in Hope.
This virus is not THE problem. There’s a lot of hardship going on right now, but there’s a global problem that goes beyond disease, and Jesus alone is the cure. I pray that you are able to come to terms with how little control we have in this life, and that you make the decision to put your trust in the One who gives life and love eternal.
Let’s talk or call. firstname.lastname@example.org