This weekend, while flying home from Maryland, I watched the movie: Paul, Apostle of Christ. I had just come from visiting my mother in the hospital and was also thinking about a childhood friend who was just diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The drive to the airport was filled with both anxiety from running late and reflection on the fragile nature of life. In that drive I realized that while I pray daily for the wisdom to view life from a heavenly perspective, the truth is, I fear death. I also worry about the uncertainties of life. Would I be able to handle illness or injury that resulted in paralysis, memory loss, or any kind of physical or mental impairment? From the movie I was in awe of how strong of a faith the early Christians had and the suffering they endured to live and protect their faith (the early church was called “The Way”). It’s amazing the faith survived! But they lived for the next life, not this one. For their faith, they endured much suffering.
The movie provides a vivid account of the persecution against Christians in the decades that followed Christ’s death. Equally, it demonstrates how loosely we must hold onto this life and set our sights on heaven
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
Christ’s teachings were difficult to grasp in Roman times as they we so different from conventional human thinking. As human beings, our survival instincts and self-centered nature run counter to the notion of Love above all. But maybe that’s the point. Our nature is tied to survival in an imperfect world. However, our intellect and conscious tell us that there must be something more, something that goes beyond this world. Christ confirmed this. And anyone who embarks on a serious study of Christ’s life, death, and post death activities can’t deny the deity of Christ. That is a topic for another blog, but if you doubt this, I would suggest a couple books that provide compelling research on this topic and good reading; The Case for Christ (Lee Strobel), More Than a Carpenter (Josh McDowell), Finding Jesus in the Old Testament (David Limbaugh), The Journey (Billy Graham).
If Christ is God, then his teachings are true and trust worthy. It is therefore true that God loves us, each of us, personally. Wow, that’s incredible by itself, but there is more! God wants to have a personal relationship with every one of us, in heaven. But how can he possibly allow sin into heaven? He can’t. But wait, the world is full of sin and we are each a sinner. We all need to be saved from our sins, we need a savior! We need a savior to take on the burden of our sins, and to teach us the ways of love and truth in a sinful world. This was the reason Christ came. By paying the price of our sin, Christ takes our sins away and makes us new, thus enabling us to gain entry into Heaven. But we must accept this gift of sacrifice and turn away from sin.
This is Paul’s message and is why he was willing to endure whatever this world threw at him. He understood this world is temporary and heaven is eternal. He went from being an instrument of evil to being an instrument of love. In this, he found peace and a glimpse of what waits for us beyond. I recommend watching Paul, Apostle of Christ. Think of yourself as Paul or as a Christian in Roman times. Come back to this post and let us know if the movie helped strengthen your faith and lessen any fear of death, as it has for me. Maybe you are already more confident in the afterlife than I am. I pray you are. And if you are, pray for me!
“The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21)