If someone asked you how you prepared yourself to live life–or how you ought to prepare yourself to live life–how would you respond to that question? It might be difficult, but could you stop reading and answer that question? You see my friends, the first step towards living life as a Christian is having a proper understanding of your imminent death! You might be asking at this stage, “Do you mean before I can live life I need to understand death”? And the answer is a definite “yes.”
I chatted to my opposite neighbor this afternoon (maintaining social distancing–he was on his pavement and I was in our yard). His father-in-law, who is like a father to him, suffered a bad fall this past week and needed to have an emergency hip replacement operation. We spoke about his responding to physiotherapy and medication. Slowly, slowly, he seems to be improving. Thankfully, he is the only one in ICU, so he gets ‘top class treatment’. I mentioned from personal experience as a pastor visiting the elderly that after such an operation is the fear of pneumonia setting in. The operation is normally successful, but very often the elderly contract pneumonia whilst in ICU. Sadly that is often what kills them. He then said his father-in-law is a godly man who knows the Lord personally … and at 82 they do not expect him to live forever. But then he said, “I’m 56 and I could die before him!”
We live at a time in history where life expectancy has increased through better medical facilities and care with medicine itself becoming a life saver … and perhaps this has become a major negative when it comes to living life as a Christian. Years back, when life expectancy was far less–when people lived to 25, 40 or 60–they seemed to be so aware that death would be imminent that it affected the way they looked at life and lived life in the face of them dying at any moment. It’s not that they lived in fear of death … the opposite was actually true … because death was imminent they lived life to the full because they knew life would not continue for too many years. That is the point my neighbor meant when he said, “I’m 56 and I could die before him!”
The apostle Paul lived this way. He had a proper understanding of his imminent death that helped him live life correctly. He says:
Rom 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.
A proper understanding of your imminent death is the first step to a proper preparation towards living life as a Christian for the glory of God.
What is the difference between a gym and a dressing room? In a gym, people work their muscles, sweat to loose body fat and prepare their body to look good … for appearance. In a dressing room, actors and actresses put on the required clothing, have their hair styled and faces made up to look good … for appearance. Hours and hours are spend in the gym and dressing rooms … all for appearance. If that is the side of life they focus on, there is a problem! You see, this life is a dress rehearsal for the next life. This is true of both the righteous and the wicked … it’s true of those who love Jesus and are in His Kingdom and it is true of those who follow the devil and are in his kingdom. Right now, it’s dress rehearsal time.
For Christians, this means that we need to be preparing our souls for glory, because though we know glory is certain, we don’t know when it will be. It could be in 50 years’ time for some, less for others and for a few it could be at any moment. Are you preparing your soul for appearance … for your appearing before the Great Throne of the Almighty? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to hone you as you use the Scriptures, coupled to prayer day by day? Are you able to identify that those spiritual muscles are strengthening and developing and becoming robust and strong? If they are, then you ought to have a knowledge and an awareness that because of your coming death, you have the strength, desire and will to do today what God requires of you.
Your task is to keep your eyes on heaven so that you will be able to circumnavigate all the traumas, heartaches, problems and effects of illness and disease that will come your way during the short time you have on this earth. The great comfort to the soul must be:
Col 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
When this is real in your life, you will live on the edge of eternity in a conscious way and you will be packed and ready to go at any moment!
Dear gracious, loving Heavenly Father, I confess I have a long way to go to be packed and ready to go at any moment. Forgive me for my unpreparedness. Mercifully help me to prepare myself to live life for Your glory by understanding that my life is in Your hands and can be taken at any moment of time. Help me, with the help of Your Word, applied by Your Spirit, to prepare myself better for my appearing before You in glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.