To some who will read this, for me to talk about my aging body at the ripe old age of 50 is like Don Quixote talking about having a realistic perspective on life. Nevertheless…
A book I have been reading has provoked me to think about the process of aging. I’m not sure exactly what prolonged life and the reproduction of life would have looked like if the fall of man had never taken place, but I do know that aging in a post-fall world includes both an increased vulnerability to disease and a loss of function. All of this, of course, eventually ends in death, that last enemy which the resurrected Jesus is yet to fully destroy.
As my body gets older, I’m beginning to understand though that Jesus has already begun to destroy death, at least for the believer. Death was pronounced as the ultimate punishment for rebellion against God’s commands, but one day, God will give his children resurrected bodies that will never die again. I can’t wait to have THAT body. But unless I’m a part of that most unique generation who is alive on planet earth when the day of the Lord comes, I am going to die. My body is going to age, wear out, and then succumb to some disease known only to God at this point. God only knows HOW I’m going to die, but everybody knows THAT I’m going to die.
I’m beginning to think that this is not such a bad thing. I should be careful. Death is horrific. Awful. Disastrous. Haunting. It has silenced the laughter and ripped the joy out of the hearts of many who’ve watched a loved one die. I do not want to speak frivolously about something so unnatural. I am talking however, about ME and MY death. What does the inevitability of my death mean for me? I hope there are a few, at least, who grieve my passing. I don’t want to die lonely and insignificant. But I do want to die—eventually.
What I mean is, I don’t want to get older and older and older and older, ad nauseum. I want aging to stop, and the only way that’s going to stop is if I die. I don’t want death to happen now, as in today, but I do want it to happen eventually. And this is yet another reason why the Gospel is such Good News. Because of the Gospel, death is now my exit from a life of endless aging to a life of never aging and never dying. It is the bridge that gets me from this life of senescence to the next life of eternal youth.
In this way, Jesus has already begun to destroy death in the life of the believer. It is no longer the end of the best existence; it is now the beginning of the best existence. Like all of us, I am deeply longing for the time when it is fully and finally defeated. But in the meantime, Jesus’s death and resurrection assures me that growing older is no longer something to be feared. And my aging body, as much as I wish I could still do some of the things I used to, only reminds me that the Gospel is really, really Good News. The best is not behind me but before me.
Soli Deo Gloria!