FOR DUST YOU ARE, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN

cemeteryI doubt there is anyone who has not at one time or another feared death. Sooner or latter, almost all of us learn of death. Sooner or latter, almost all of us experience the death of someone close to us. Sooner or latter, almost all of us will die. Thus, I read Death is beautiful…REALLY??? by culturemonk with considerable curiosity. After being afraid of death most of his life, adopted a new attitude after the death of his father.

Death is beautiful. It is culmination of a live well lived. It is the next step from this journey that we each take and instead of filling us with sadness and anxiety; death gives us the opportunity to be thankful for life and the joy of living. (from here)

Is death beautiful? Except for that, I can agree with ‘s appraisal of death, but death is not beautiful. Death something we suffer in pain. Even Jesus suffered at the prospect of death, and when His friends cried over death, He shared their tears.

The Bible teaches death came to us as a consequence of the first sin (Genesis 3). God took care to make it so.

Genesis 3:22-24 New King James Version (NKJV)

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Was God just being cruel and mean to us? No. He wanted us to learn a lesson. In his notes on the Bible (Genesis 3), John Wesley observed this of (Genessis 3: 22).

Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil – See what he has got, what advantages, by eating forbidden fruit! This is said to humble them, and to bring them to a sense of their sin and folly, that seeing themselves thus wretchedly deceived by following the devil’s counsel, they might henceforth pursue the happiness God offers, in the way he prescribes.

God could have sent Adam and Eve straight to Hell. Instead, He chose to send them into a world that was no longer a paradise. Instead, He promised them a redeemer. Because He still calls for us to be His children, instead of destroying Adam and Eve, He disciplined them.

Proverbs 3:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

If beauty remains in this world, it is not because of death. It is because in spite of our sinful nature — the fact we deserve death — God still loves us.

6 thoughts on “FOR DUST YOU ARE, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN

  1. “Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.” – C.S. Lewis

    A beautiful view of death by Lewis.

    Tom,
    I appreciate your thoughts in the post…. yet i have to disagree with the philosophy that tends to be connected with it; i.e. the philosophy of focusing on death as negative reinforcement.

    Tom, I was obviously raised in a similar environment as the position it seems that your writing from (death as negative reinforcement) . As a parent (and an academic with numerous degrees in the psychology field) I know that the best incentive to raise my children with is ‘positive reinforcement’ rather than “negative reinforcement” .

    Which makes more sense;

    —) Positive reinforcement; The child does the dishes each evening because of the ‘praise’ and encouragement the parents give to him/her

    —-) Negative reinforcement; The child does the dishes each evening because of the nagging and/or condemnation the parents give him/her

    Tom, the problem I have with the angle you’ve taken on death is that it is very typical of the angle that the hell fire and brimstone preachers take…. yet where are the examples of the traditional hell/fire brimstone preaching and focus of death in this way being an effective model in our culture of pointing people towards God?

    Facts;

    —) Traditional Evangelical churches are dwindling in attendance throughout the U.S.
    —) Traditional Evangelical evangelism is practically non-effective throughout the U.S.
    —) Traditional Evangelicalism is practically irrelevant in the national spectrum of the U.S.
    (Barna.Org)

    Francis Schaeffer in the 20th century became one of the most important evangelical’s of his day when it came to reaching out the American youth because he DID Not use the traditional modus-operandi when it came to evangelical evangelism.

    Jonathan Edwards (of who I have read nearly every biography that exists on the man) is heralded by nearly all of evangelicalism as the greatest American Theologian….. YET he was an AWFUL pastor….. and his responsibility has a shepherd to his flock was so bad in comparison to the life of Christ that it is utterly shocking that evangelicals are so much in love with him.

    Tom, I’m in love with Christ. And I’m sorry, but the example he led looks VERY different than the example that most evangelical preachers are setting here in the U.S. and so while I appreciate your thoughts in the post….i have to disagree with the philosophy that tends to be connected with it; i.e. the philosophy of focusing on death as negative reinforcement.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment 🙂

    Like

    1. culturemonk – Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I too think positive reinforcement is important, and I think we need to emphasize positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement. Nonetheless, both have their place, and both need to be understood without confusion.

      Because death brings pain, it is not a reward. To avoid the fear of Hell, we should not pretend Hell does not exist. Similarly, when we have so much reason to fear it, we should not pretend death is beautiful.

      You say you are in love with Christ. That perhaps explains how you have overcome your fear of death. We each can overcome our fear of death by understanding how Jesus Christ removed its sting. Jesus paid the price of our sins by dying for us when we should have died instead. Because of His sacrifice, we can experience God’s infinite mercy and grace. Because He loved us enough to die in our place, even though we die each of us may still obtain a place in heaven. Thus, for the believer the pain of death is far less than it might otherwise be. So it is that you could begin your comment with C. S. Lewis’ words.

      Death itself is horrible, but what follows need not be.

      Like

  2. Tom,
    Death is a subject that very few are comfortable in discussing. Why is this? Because for the vast majority death is dreaded. It is just as you say… the actual process of death is an ugly one… it is a very painful process that brings about separation from family members, friends and associates while also separating us from a physical body that has been our earthly dwelling.

    But worst of all, for those who do not know Christ as their Savior, death is a passageway that leads to eternal separation from our Lord in eternal torment.

    Although the process of death may be painful for the Christian as well, the wonderful truth is that it is through death that we can enter into eternal glory with our Lord!

    So, yes, death is painful for all of us, but thanks to the Lord (because of His great love for us) this same painful death experience can lead to a wonderful new life with Him.

    Lord bless you Tom. Thanks for the posting that helps to remind all of us of our need to be prepared for our coming death.

    “O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

    Like

    1. Rob – Thank you for your comment and for sharing that Bible verse.

      None of us own the Truth. How you, the culturemonk, or I view death is not the Truth. Nevertheless, we must do our best to understand the Truth, and I believe our dread of death is fundamental part of that Truth. And if we dread death, for that reason alone death is horrible.

      Perhaps, like the Apostle Paul, some so Christian look forward to being with Christ that death seem inconsequential. These I suppose see death as nothing more than the door to Heaven. I have not reached that point. Moreover, when those I love die, I miss them. Thus, even though Christ Jesus has removed its sting, I still hate and fear death. I am just relieved to know our final rest is with Christ Jesus and not the grave.

      Like

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