For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (NRSV)
It has been said that death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come. To see death as the entry into some gloomy limbo land, or embarking on some hazardous journey to an unknown shoreline is to leave Jesus out of the picture.
For those who have embraced Jesus by faith in who he is and what he has done, death is both an ending and a beginning. It is the end of one chapter of our life story but not the end of the story itself. Because we are joined to Jesus by faith, we share in his everlasting life in the presence of God.
This is why, in one sense, a follower of Jesus cannot lose. True, when we die we leave sorrow in our wake and a gap that can’t be truly filled. True, the process of dying can be both prolonged and painful. But beyond that process, there can be a new beginning with no regrets, no pain, no tears.
As we go on living, we live in a loving relationship with God through Jesus. We have opportunities to do good, to make a difference to God’s world. If we die, we enter an existence where we simply enjoy the perfection of the new heavens and new earth.
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We enjoy the light of life and of God here and now. Our death does not plunge us into darkness but into a greater, brighter everlasting light.