Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Boil to Rags, Part 7: The Last Enemy (a devotional series by an orthodox rebel)

(See the first post in the series here.)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish...." John 3:16

Everything dies.

Everything fades, fails, burns out, and runs its course. Even secular skepticism cannot deny this one unalienable truth, this last absolute left to willful unbelief. Everything is perishing. Even as we speak, men and animals and plants and planets and stars and all things are moving faster and faster towards a static equilibrium, a silence and stillness and dark and cold. Long after every living things is a corpse, the universe itself will rot away leaving behind dead planets and empty voids, the skull and bones of existence. To those who do not have God, or redemption, or any other hope outside of this material deathtrap called Nature, death alone is crouching at the door, and its open maw will be satisfied with much blood.

We think very little of death until it's coming for us or those we love, until we discover that every place wherein our soul has trod is its hunting grounds. Then it is no longer a morbid abstraction. It becomes an enemy: a living, breathing, calculating enemy. An enemy with all the advantages: inescapable and unstoppable. It takes at will and seemingly at random, stealing young and old and friend and foe. Many today laugh and mock the "simple" view of a being whose ways are malicious and meaningless beyond all imagining. But let them taste of death, let their lives be stained by its horror and great darkness, and they will never be so naive again. We have a great foe, the last enemy left to mankind, who touches all of our lives on a relentless day-to-day basis, and he does not have red horns and a pitchfork but a black hood and a scythe. Indeed, the power of death is the Devil's for a season, but in the end even he will have to give up the ghost before that infinite dark.

See, now, why the Gospel is good news. It is not because another sage has taught us morality. It is not because a martyr died for a cause. It is not because a humble rabbi rebelled against his superiors. It is because whosoever believes in Christ shall never die. Death may claim a body, but it will find it a hollow treat, for the soul belongs to death's Great Enemy, the imperishable and incorruptible God-man. When long ago death met the Being of Life and the Life of Being face-to-face in a man, what else could happen but its power crumble like a hollowed-out house before an earthquake? When death swallowed Christ, it was as if a corpse swallowed a live coal and in turn was swallowed up with fire unquenchable. That is the Gospel: the immortal God has scattered the immortal dark. Christ died and rose again, and death has been swallowed up in His victory, and every soul surrendered to that victory shall not perish, for death owns nothing in them anymore.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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