(Editor's Note: This blog was written by Jonathan Stagg who is interning with The Stand's Engage division.)
I was walking in a graveyard the other day. I like walking around in graveyards because of the history, but also because they remind me of the brevity of life and the need to make mine count. As I walked around, I thought about all the names I saw on the gravestones. Names of individuals that most people don’t even know, yet they were once as alive as I am now and actively involved in this world.
Graveyards are a good place to get perspective on life. They help us see that no matter how many years we live, our lives are short in comparison to history. We have a limited timeline between our birth and death to do whatever we will do and then we’re done. Except for the few blessed ones who will be taken up to heaven in the rapture, death will come to all of us no matter how strong or healthy we are.
Death brings an end to our life on this earth. There is no return to earth through an endless cycle of reincarnation as some religions teach. A person has his whole life to decide where he will spend eternity but once he has died, his fate is sealed. That decision can never be remade. Heaven and hell are the only two paths; on one of these, all will go after death. This isn’t meant to depress us, but to help us see the importance of being prepared for death.
Yes, death sends us on to the next life and eternity, but the wonderful part is that we can choose where we will go. God sent His precious holy Son to pay the penalty for our sins – death - so that we could be free from its power. Everyone who believes that He is the only way to God will be guaranteed to live in heaven with Jesus after they die. Romans 10:9 says “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
This leads to the last point. We don’t have to fear death; it is not the end but only a door into eternity. All who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have no reason to fear death. First Thessalonians 4:14 says “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” (NASV)
Death for a believer is not a sad thing at all, but a release from a sin-driven world and entrance into God’s holy kingdom. Death is only sad for the friends and relatives of the deceased who miss their presence. If we know our loved one had a true relationship with the Lord we can rest assured that we will be reunited again. Second Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Death to a believer is not the enemy but merely the process by which we enter heaven. First Corinthians 15:55 says “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (KJV) Therefore, the next time you are at a funeral for a loved one who was a believer remember that Psalm 30:5 says “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” You will be reunited. Even more importantly, your loved ones are with Jesus their Creator and Savior, who loves them even more than you do, and they will remain safe in His presence for all eternity! “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).