Death is not your friend.
I have seen enough of it this past week to believe that. Beyond my personal experience, however, God’s word makes this truth abundantly clear.
Unfortunately, many have attempted to turn death from an adversary to be humbled into an advisor to be honored. Even more unfortunately, Christians have often led the image rehabilitation campaign.
Through the cross of Christ, death is most certainly a defeated foe, but it is a foe nonetheless.
I understand the reasoning behind it all. Knowing those of us who have salvation in Christ will be with Him after this life ends, there is a tendency to see death as a guide to that longed for destination.
We know that we do not have to fear death. Christ has freed us from that (Hebrews 2:15). There is a difference, however, in not fearing someone and calling that someone a friend.
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica that Christians do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13); he never said we do not grieve. We simply grieve differently, hopefully, but we still grieve.
The early church bitterly mourned the loss of Stephen after he was stoned as the first martyr (Acts 8:2). Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, even though He knew that He would soon raise Lazarus from the grave (John 11:35).
Death is the last enemy to be completely defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26). That is God’s ultimate plan and desire.
He hates death so much He sent His Son to die in our place, so that death would be conquered and lose its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).
We cannot treat both God and death as a friend – they are enemies.
God’s ire is directed toward death because it, like sin, is an unwelcome, usurping intruder in His creation. It snuck through the door we left open when we rebelled against our Creator. We were not created to die.
Have you ever wondered why, even though the certainty of death is such in this life that it became part of a well-worn catchphrase, we are so awkward around it? It is not as if we had any real idea that our life would end any other way.
We know it is coming for us and those around us, yet we struggle to know how to speak about it and to those suffering the effects of it.
Death is awkward for us because, despite its commonality, it is unnatural. No matter what others may say, death is not the most natural thing. It is entirely unnatural and contrary to creation.
God did not create us to die. He did not intend for us to deal with this enemy we call death. He died so that death would one day die forever from His redeemed creation.
While we should definitely rejoice in the fact that the grave could not hold the King and neither will it hold His servants, we must recognize that the grave does not release us of its own volition.
Death is not a welcoming doorway, but rather a treacherous one – forced open by the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. It releases us only because it has been subdued.
We praise God for defeating death. We thank Jesus for conquering the grave. We trust in the Holy Spirit to lead us through the valley. We do not, however, regard death as a friend.
Death is a defeated foe, but a foe nonetheless.