R.I.P. (Part 6)

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10 ESV).

In order to get to our final truth we return to the reading we began with. Again the apostle reminds us that we can know that death is not the end of our existence. We have bodies and souls. Death is the separation of body and soul, not the end of our personhood. When we die our bodies become lifeless and are no longer the place where we “reside,” but we continue to exist as souls with Christ in glory. I love this little rendering with the words, “Shut up and dance. Death is not the end.” I’ve often wept at the funerals of those I have loved. Some of those tears were based in the feelings of immediate loss; however, most of them came as a result of not being immediately cognizant of the great victory they have won.

Funerals should be celebrations for those who have died. This celebration should be based on what they have ahead, not behind. Isn’t it interesting how backwards we have it? Read any obituary. It will detail all the pertinent life data and accomplishments. We somehow see this as their “legacy.” That is not true. Their legacy continues to grow in heaven. They have arrived!

There is one last word as I conclude the study. Knowing that death ushers us directly into the realities of either heaven or hell should make us look up to Christ as our refuge and salvation and should make us strive, as Paul, to “have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to him” (v. 9). Even for believers, the prospect of death is sometimes a fearful thing because death is enshrouded in great mystery as the realm to which we have never gone. But we may take courage and lay aside our fears in the confidence that we have a God who time after time says to his people, “Do not be afraid” (cf. Joshua 11:6; Isaiah 44:8; Matthew 14:27; 17:7; 28:10; and Revelation 1:17). God wants His people to be comforted in the face of death: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:1-2). That gives real meaning to Rest in Peace!