In a world that has literally ceased to function the last 13 months because of the fear of death from a global virus, celebrating it seems like an act of insurrection. That's because the flip side of the death we celebrate on Good Friday resulted in a Resurrection three days later. The doctrine of the Resurrection is a foundation without which the Gospel message loses its purpose. Believing in the Resurrection is one of the main postulates of the Christian faith. Jesus didn't just come and live a good life as a teacher, healer, or humanitarian. He conquered death—the only religious founder to not just have claimed this miracle but to have had it witnessed by thousands and recorded for billions. We celebrate death because through it, we are reborn. And if you do not believe you’ll exist after lights out, you should be like Rosamund Pike’s character in the movie, I Care a Lot. When faced with her death, she replied, “Do you remember how scary it was in 1807? No, me neither because I wasn’t alive yet. It’ll feel the same way when I’m dead. Not even nothing. Why be scared of that?”
I was aware of this pandemic-induced incongruence the Easter of 2020, but now that it has gone on an entire year, this disconnect seems to swing between histrionic and idiotic. Why are we still living and amplifying this fear of death? Since none of us gets out of here alive—the Bible even states, "It is appointed unto each man to die once (Heb 9:27)—why do we fear death? I know the pain of losing loved ones. No matter what your worldview and faith paradigm, death is not a pleasant thing or concept. But I do not live in a state of anxiety because of my mortality. It is what it is. I know what I believe, and you must own what you believe as well. You can't live in fear and know what you believe at the same time. Fear is not a viable worldview construct for the individuals who comprise humanity. The virus of anxiety has killed more people than COVID.
Today marks Good Friday, the day Christians celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Celebrating death is a distinct tenet of the Christian faith because we know the shedding of our fallen flesh means entranceway into eternal perfection and fellowship with the God of the universe. We can boldly claim our eternal inheritance because God in human flesh paid the price for our eternal separation with His blood sacrifice. If you've ever attended a Christian funeral of a devote believer, you know what I mean. It’s why we can triumphantly declare, “Oh death, where is your victory?” The pain of death is hurtful, but in the end, it is the ultimate healing and restoration to perfection—where it all started.
The temporary loss of my heavenly father reminds me of the temporary loss of my earthly one. When faced with his cancer diagnosis inevitability at 70 years old, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones began to live his life at an urgency beyond anything he had ever done before. Five months before his earthly departure, my father and his beloved Gloria embarked on a speaking tour worldwide. With the loss of sight in one eye, the inability to speak audibly because of the debilitation of his vocal cord, and experiencing chronic pain due to cancer progression into his bones, he soldiered on. So impressed were those who witnessed his final leg of the race that they created a documentary titled “A Tremendous Life: The Story of Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.
When folks would call him and tell him they were praying for his healing, he'd exclaim, "Please stop trying to pray me out of where I want to go!" When others would travel to see him in person if they were a believer, he'd dismiss them, saying, "I'll see you again in Heaven, and we've already said our goodbyes. I need to spend my remaining moments introducing Christ to those who don't know him." My father was ready to go home. He had run the race hard—tremendously and victoriously, but it was also challenging. Life in our fallen states is. The Apostle Paul actually said it best, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). If you want an impressive peer-reviewed journal piece on the importance of the Resurrection, please take the time to read Paul’s understanding of death according to 1 Corinthians 15 by Ivan Karadža.
The world will only go back to normal when we realize this is just our temporary home and that the best is yet to come. Only then will we be free to live our lives in freedom from fear unshackled from the dilapidations of depression and angst of anxiety. For this reason, Good Friday is beyond Good; it is our eternal hope and lasting glory. Be blessed! Be Fearless!