When Christians Die

Perhaps you heard or read about the tragic news of this past Saturday: Mr. James Ford of Horse Branch, KY was hit by a car and died from his sustained injuries. Mr. Ford was a faithful member of Beaver Dam church of Christ, so we had the pleasure of calling him our brother in Christ. Only being here for about two months, I admittedly didn’t know brother Ford well. Nevertheless, in my brief interactions with him, he seemed to be a nice gentleman who got around well for someone in their early-90s. In fact, it was known that he was a gifted woodworker. These brief facts only describe brother Ford in very basic terms, providing a basic understanding of who he was.

However, when you can say this man died as a faithful Christian, a child of God, it provides greater context for brother Ford. Actually, it provides greater context for anyone who passes from this life as a Christian. While we grieve any time a loved one dies, searching for greater perspective is what makes any loss more bearable. 

So what is the context? What is the perspective? Remember when Lazarus had died and Jesus was speaking with his sister, Martha? Martha was disappointed Jesus didn’t arrive in time to save her brother, but let’s consider Jesus’ response. Jesus told her in John 11:25–26, “…I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” It’s safe to say brother Ford believed this.

Brother Ford believed the words of the most well known passage of all, John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We may question the phrasing of the word “perish,” but when we consider that many disciples of Christ would die a martyr’s death for the gospel, we can safely conclude Jesus isn’t talking about physical perishing at all. He’s speaking about a lack of spiritual death, in other words: eternal life. 

We put a great deal of emphasis on this life, and understandably so. It’s what we currently experience. This is where we have to dig deeper, folks. The purpose of this physical life is for our spiritual life that Christ physically died for! Did you catch that? Are we focused on the right life? We may have great dreams and aspirations in this life, but as the old preacher once said, “If you’ve missed heaven, you’ve missed it all!” 

So one of the questions I leave you with this week is the same one Jesus asked Martha: “Do you believe this?” Here’s the second: What will you do regarding your belief? Reading Acts 2 or Acts 8:26-40 are great places to find your answer. If you believe, take action! Live this life in focus of the eternal one.