Shooting for immortality
I play golf spelled backwards. Someone once told me that I play “military golf”—left, right, left, right. I haven’t played in months, a layoff which no one in the golfing world seems to have noticed. By contrast, Tiger Woods has been missed at every tournament since his major knee surgery eight months ago. But now he’s back. It’s not often that a first-round golf match makes the New York Times, but Mr. Woods is no mere golfer. He won his match on Wednesday and showed that he is ready to dominate his sport again.
Tiger Woods may be a golfing immortal, but C. S. Lewis reminded us yesterday that none of us have “talked to a mere mortal.” Every person you know will live forever, either with God or separated from him.
You already knew that. Here’s the part of that assertion which we often overlook: Our eternal life with God has already begun. You will not become immortal when you die—that event has already occurred. Paul spoke for every Christian: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). If you have made Jesus your Lord, the moment you gave your life to him you were “born again” (John 3:3). As a result, Paul could declare: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
What are the practical results of your present eternal life? The first is that you need have no fear whatsoever of death. The worst thing that could happen to you today would lead to the best thing that could happen to you today. When you take your last breath, you step from time into eternity. You pass from the land of the dying to the land of the living.
I admit that it is hard for most of us not to fear this event, as it requires us to move from the world we can see to a world we cannot. Most children fear their first day of school, or their first day of college. Most of us facing surgery fear the anesthesia more than the medical procedure—trusting our lives completely to someone else is never easy. Death is the great unknown, a step beyond all we can see or control.
Our great fear is that death is final and forever, that this world is all there is and our faith is just wishful thinking. But in a very real sense, you and I have already died once. We have passed from the only world we knew to a world we could not possibly imagine. If we survived that experience in the past, we need not fear surviving it again in the future.
By Dr. James C. Denison
President, The Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas