Risk assessment is a requirement in many avenues of life these days – a consequence of a creeping desire for litigation. If someone wants to claim compensation for injury then there is a need to prove that you have done all one can to reduce risk. This leads to the rather comical situation where most assessments conclude that the ultimate risk is death. This may be the result of some dangerous activity, such as sky-diving, but might be applied to something seemingly innocent, like sitting in an arm-chair!
‘The only certainty in life is death’ – an often quoted saying that from a human perspective seems so obviously correct, is from the perspective of Christian faith completely wrong. Yes, the end of physical and earthly life is indeed certain, but the life that comes from a relationship with God, known in Jesus, does not have a certain end, but rather can offer us something eternal. Life is not fatal!
Henri Nouwen explains this in quite traditional Christian language:
Jesus Takes Away Fatality – from Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey
The great mystery of the incarnation is that God became human in Jesus so that all human flesh could be clothed with divine life. Our lives are fragile and destined to death. But since God, through Jesus, shared in our fragile and mortal lives, death no longer has the final word. Life has become victorious. Paul writes: “And after this perishable nature has put on imperishability and this mortal nature has put on immortality, then will the words of scripture come true: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Jesus has taken away the fatality of our existence and given our lives eternal value.
This is not an esoteric theological concept, but something that impacts on our everyday existence. Not knowing quite when our physical end may come (from skydiving, sitting in the armchair or getting up in the morning!) God’s promise of an everlasting relationship with him is of significance now as well as then.
Our recent house-move gave opportunity for a ‘big clear-out’. Things of no use were not to be part of the future and the local tip has been visited frequently over a period of weeks. But of course there are those things regarded as ‘precious’. Gifts received for significant events, mementoes of places visited by us and others, photos of family and friends from years past. ‘We must keep those’ gave reprieve for these things to continue as part of our life. However, the time will come when all these ‘things’ will come to an end. So what is it that lasts?
We all have our ‘recycle’ bins, but to give something a renewed life takes effort and care and that useful thing will in the end break down beyond recognition. Transparencies of our wedding need to be given a new lease of life, converting to a digital format, but at some point this format, this ‘life’ will end too. Ultimately, however, it is the ‘core’ of us, our soul in relationship with God, known in this earthly life in the person of Jesus, that can know immortality.
Life is not fatal !