We live in a culture that does everything possible to shield us from, and soften the harshness of death. Many, maybe even most people are afraid of dying or at best avoid thinking about it unless they are absolutely forced to; even many Christ-followers. In part this is because death is unnatural in so far as it is not what we were created for. It was only when sin entered creation that death followed. But the Bible is very clear that Jesus has defeated sin and death therefore we have no need to fear death. So why are so many afraid?
1 John 4:14-18 talks about God’s love for us release from a fear of death. Essentially it tells us that the better we know and experience God’s love for us through knowing Jesus, the less we will fear death. Someone cleverly put it like this: Know Christ, No Fear. Let me help you understand how this works with an imaginary story.
An orphan boy who lived on the street was caught breaking into a jewelry store. As he stood before the judge to hear his punishment he was astonished to hear that the owner of the store had not only offered to look after the damages to the store and pay a large fine in lieu of jail-time, but that he had also offered to adopt the boy and bring him into his own home. The only stipulation was that the boy must accept the offer of adoption in order to recieve the offer of paying for his penalty.
The boy accepted, but was at the same time very fearful of what sort of punishment he might be in for, or that maybe he would be made to live like a slave in the man’s house. The boy was afraid because he didn’t really know the man who wanted to be his father. He hadn’t yet experienced the fullness of his new father’s forgiveness and the extravagance of his love.
This simple story falls far short, not leastways in that the sentence for our sin is death – eternal death, but God’s gift to us is eternal life. If you are not yet a Christ follower you have good reason to be afraid of death, but you can leave that fear behind by accepting God’s gift through Jesus.
If you have become a Christ follower and yet still the fear of death lingers, ask God to remove it. He will. It will likely be through a process of deepening intimacy with Jesus, rather than a sudden freedom from fear, but he will do it. That’s not to say you should want to be in a hurry for death, or that you will be eager for the actual process of dying. But you will be able to face death without fear. Know Jesus, No Fear.