There is nothing abnormal about death, just as there is nothing abnormal about birth. Every born child awaits death, at some point. The process, regardless of background, always starts with birth, leading to death at some point. Some people die young. Others die at old age. Living longer, should not necessarily be regarded as a blessing, compared to those having lived shorter lives.
Jesus lived for only thirty-three and a half years on earth. This is notwithstanding that His accomplishments, cannot be compared to any other accomplishment, ever achieved in this world. Life is not about longevity, but about what one does for other people. One is remembered for things done for others, more than things done for oneself. Others mourn for their dead without appreciating this reality.
Paul’s advice was that of living this life as if ending at sunset. This physical life is not as important as most people assume it to be. The only value with this life concerns what one does for other people. One can be in a beauty pageant, or acquire the best material gains, but, all count to nothing, after death.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV).
“What I mean, brothers is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).
When one concentrates on doing the will of God, one uses one’s time wisely, according to Paul. The present life can fertilize the future glory. There will come a time that the current life vanishes. One can accumulate as much wealth as one can. But that wealth also perishes, after passing on.
Paul’s advice is driven by that God’s children no longer have any share in things of this world. A truly converted person ceases to worry about physical acquisitions. Material things can be manipulated for serving the Lord. Occupation with God’s will is more worthwhile than occupation with material possessions.
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:14).
There is nothing enviable about being God’s children, who have surrendered everything to be with Christ. True Christianity invites persecution, false accusations and all manner of malice. God’s begotten children can only be advised to keep reflecting on the life of Jesus on earth.
Scriptures do not show Jesus ever taking time off, to enjoy life. Jesus sought to inject happiness into other people, rather than creating moments of happiness for Himself. Wherever Jesus was found to be, He always sought to advance the teachings of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The same applies to God’s children, meant to be viewed as not different from Jesus. The Spirit that was with Jesus is with God’s children. The thinking pattern of Jesus is still with God’s children today, as much as it was with the early disciples. It is a question of allowing God’s Spirit to function in one’s life.
The worry about surviving longer in this life ceases to occupy the minds of God’s children. These are people who sacrificially commit themselves to be of service to others, in whichever form God desires of them. There is no need to mourn their deaths, except to adopt whatever they leave behind as their legacy.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me” (Philippians 1:21-26 NIV).
Paul shows that the only purpose of continuing to live in this world is doing God’s will. I have done many things since I was born. As a child, I used to herd cattle for my father who is no more. Just as the cattle I herded, though still in my memory, are no longer there.
Some fourteen years ago, the meaning of life dawned on me. I realized having wasted time doing useless things. I discovered that life was about giving; more than it was about accumulating material things for myself. Life became empty, without doing anything for humanity.
However, at that time, I did not have anything to give, as languishing in abject poverty. Our country had just attained the highest inflationary level, ever achieved by any other nation in peacetime. I became stuck with the revelation, projecting that life’s worth is contained in giving, rather than in receiving.