Friday, March 19, 2010

Death--Our Ultimate Dilemma

Death hits us hard. We hate seeing the affliction of people we love, and we hate suffering when we have to do it ourselves.  Death separates us, and there are too many messy emotions.

Max Lucado says, “Something about death makes us accuse God of betrayal. ‘If God were here, there’d be no death!’ we claim.” Max calls death “our ultimate dilemma.”

Max writes about the passage in John 11, the story of sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus, of Bethany, who were Jesus’ much-loved friends. Jesus heard about Lazarus’ desperate illness, but he waited three days to go to Bethany, and by that time, Lazarus had died. Jesus talked about belief to his disciples: “…I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe.”

He was concerned about Martha’s belief. She was a little testy with him, saying if he had been there, Lazarus would not have died. He said her brother would rise again, and she said sure, sure, “in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus responded, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

 "Yes, Lord," she said, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." 

Everybody was talking in sort of accusatory tones about how Jesus could have saved him from death if he had come sooner. By this time, there was an odor. Too late. He had been there four days. But Jesus, moved to tears, prayed, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." Then he told them to roll away the stone at the entrance to the grave. He called to Lazarus to come out, and he did. People gasped, amazed. They believed.

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 

The thing is, God never leaves us alone, even though we may turn our backs on him, angry and defiant and determined to try to cope with it ourselves, without his help. Max says “if God is God anywhere, he has to be God in the face of death.” Only God has the power to deal with it. We can’t handle death’s destruction alone.  Lazarus, of course, eventually did die and remain in the grave. The story of Lazarus shows that God can do what he says he will do--give us eternal life. Do you believe this?
Here is a link to this amazing story, John 11, from Bible Gateway.

These thoughts come from Day 23 of Max Lucado’s Lenten Bible study Only Jesus--Forty Days with the Son. 

The "Death" picture is borrowed from

Monday, March 08, 2010

Science and Religion--Some Thoughts

Take a look at the amazing and beautiful pictures of distant outer-space scenes at the National Geographic site linked here.

In her book Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle says there is no conflict between science and religion. “All that the new discoveries of science can do is to enlarge our knowledge of the magnitude and glory of God’s creation. We may, and often do, abuse our discoveries, use them for selfish and greedy purposes, but it is the abuse which causes the conflict, not the discoveries themselves” (230).

Look at all the brouhaha over Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. I am not going to say it is not true. It is a theory, and if it is true, that’s because it is the way God chose to do things. Darwin himself did not say his theory came into conflict with religious belief. Although he eventually declared himself to be an agnostic, he said these things:      

1.  "The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us...." 

2. “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.” (Letter to John Fordyce, May 7 1879)
3. “I hardly see how religion & science can be kept as distinct as [Edward Pusey] desires… But I most wholly agree… that there is no reason why the disciples of either school should attack each other with bitterness.” (Letter to J. Brodie Innes, November 27 1878)
4. “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.” (Letter to John Fordyce, May 7 1879)
You can find these quotations at this site.

We can’t know everything about God. There’s much we do not know, in fact, even though we like to think we know just about everything important there is to know.  I am content to trust God and to know that he (not people) controls the universe.