“Confession” isn’t the right word for what I’m about to write, because I’m not sure sin is involved and I doubt that real confession involves broadcasting to anonymous hordes, so I’ll call this an “admission” instead: I fear my own death.
I’ve struggled with this fear off and on for about five years — basically, since I’ve come on InterVarsity staff, which is interesting timing if you’re of certain theological persuasions. Strangely, this fear appeared even as my belief in resurrection has deepened. Books like N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope and Andy Crouch’s Culture Making have helped me understand the fundamental importance of Jesus’s physical resurrection. Meanwhile, completely untheological books like Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos have opened my eyes to a strange paradox: claims of materialism often overlook just how bizarre the material of the world actually is. Saying the universe is only “material” makes me want to quote Inigo Montoya: I do not think that word means what you think it means.
Over this same five years, I’ve become more and more convinced that the resurrection is the keystone to our life in Christ. My fear of death doesn’t lessen my confidence in the resurrection. My confidence in the resurrection remains fairly constant, while my emotional response to the thought of death ebbs and flows during the day. It has not been a pleasant experience, but it has repeatedly brought home to me that I depend on God for everything, even my present life.
On Saturday night, I realized a contributing factor to my fear is that the promise of resurrection — a physical, deathless body; as Wright puts it, a life after life after death — seems too good to be true. It’s unbelievably good news; therefore, I struggle with believing it.
On Sunday morning, during a sermon about hell (of all things), I almost laughed out loud when the irony came to me. The resurrection seems “too good to be true?” Of course it does! Isn’t that the very definition of grace?
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
When you consider God, what seems too good to be true? What do your fears teach you about God? How should the promise of the resurrection and the inconceivable grace of God influence our life on campus?