Remember Death: A Review

In Remember Death, Matthew McCullough seeks to magnify the gift of eternal life by clearly presenting the ugliness of death.

McCullough begins by explaining that we rarely consider death. Our hopes and fears rarely take into account the inevitability of death. Ironically, we end up fearing and hoping in things that will not last and neglecting the things that will.

McCullough goes on to detail how death presents unsolvable challenges to human identity, meaning, and achievement. No matter how important we imagine we are, we will die and be forgotten eventually. Regardless of how we live or what good or evil we do, we will face death. Many pursuits that consume our time and energy are insignificant in light of death. Death not only dims the light of good things but darkens the bad. In light of death, what is the point of enduring suffering and pain?

Yet when we are able to face these truths honestly, the Good News of Jesus Christ becomes that much more sweet. Our identity is not in our worldly importance but in being a child of God and dwelling with the Father for eternity. Everything we do for Christ has lasting, eternal significance. The good and bad, pleasure and suffering, of this life can be put in their proper place – light and temporary in comparison to the weight of glory that is to come.

As a father of a young family, so many blessings and important moments seem to be in the future. McCullough’s book helps me to enjoy the gifts God has already given me today and remember that only what is done for Christ will last. Also, I can look forward to the life to come where fullness of joy will truly be. The best things of this life will be infinitely better and all that is imperfect will be made new.

I received a complimentary copy from Crossway’s Blog Review Program.

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Great Rejoicing

Genesis 3:15

[15] I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

The man and the woman are separated from God.  Conflict, sorrow, hardship, and death have entered the world.  Yet there is hope.

The serpent will not be the friend of the man and the woman.  Humanity will resist the devil.  And one day, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, will come and crush the serpent’s head once and for all.

Evil will be destroyed and there will be great rejoicing among God’s people.

Reconciliation

With Justice for All
John Perkins

Demanding our rights had not softened the white community as we hoped it would.  Instead, it had stiffened their opposition.  Lying there on my bed, I was able to see that confronting white people with hostility was only going to create a war.  If there was going to be any healing, it would have to take place in an atmosphere of love.  I had been trying to demand justice.  Now God was opening my eyes to a new and better strategy – seeking reconciliation.  I could not bring justice for other people.  As a Christian, my responsibility was to seek to be reconciled.  Then out of that reconciliation, justice would flow.

Sin is Relational

Genesis 3:16–19

[16] To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

[17] And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
[18] thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
[19] By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” 

The consequences of sin include pain, conflict, frustration, exhaustion, and death.  We may wonder, why must the consequences for sin be so great and so lasting?

One reason sin has lasting consequences is because sin is relational.  If I steal my friend’s computer but later return it, our relationship will not be the same because the monetary value is not the issue but the breaking of trust.

Trust requires time and commitment to be rebuilt.  Yet because we fail to love God rightly every moment, we are constantly increasing our alienation with God with no hope of rebuilding our relationship with Him.

If we are to be right with God again, we need someone to intervene on our behalf.  We need a Savior.

Willful Rebellion

Genesis 3:4–6

[4] But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. [5] For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

The serpent speaks to the woman and now she has a choice of whether to believe God or Satan.  Unfortunately, she casts the tie breaking vote herself, choosing to follow her own perception rather than God.

Here, Genesis describes the fundamental human problem as willful rebellion, not biological or sociological determinism, outside circumstances, or even other people.  Even today, the biggest problem in our lives is not circumstantial but moral.  We choose to do something other than love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.

While this is a hard pill to swallow, a problem inside of us is to be much preferred to a problem outside of us.  Blaming feels better, but ultimately leads to despair as we are caught up in forces far beyond our control.  But if the problem is our own hearts, we can choose to admit our faults and ask for the forgiveness and power of God.  And Jesus is faithful to respond to such requests with grace.

True, Beautiful, and Good

Genesis 3:6

[6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

God declared that to eat the fruit of this tree would lead to death.  But when the woman looks (with the help of the serpent) at the tree, she sees something good, delightful, and desirable.

The battle that rages in the heart of every human being is whether to believe God or to try to be God and determine for ourselves what is true, beautiful, and good.