Someone I love had some good questions recently:
- Life’s not free, why do Christians say it is free when it is not? You have to work to live.
I answered by saying that this life is not free in the sense she meant but that eternal life is free. If she died tomorrow morning or in the next few minutes she would go straight to heaven because Jesus died for her sins, past, present and future.
2. Ok, so why is it wrong for a Christian to commit suicide since we go straight to heaven when we die?
The point is valid. Christians are not afraid of death and, as Paul says in Philippians 1:23, to depart and be with Christ is far better than continuing to live in this life.
One of the reasons for not committing suicide could be that it would be painful but that’s not a strong argument, there are probably painless ways to go.
Another better reason why Christians (or indeed anyone else) should not commit suicide is because everyone lives in community. If you commit suicide someone else left behind will suffer loss. Potentially, though, that doesn’t apply to everyone (the very old for example, or those without friends and relatives). Either way anyone contemplating a quick exit from this earth would do well to consider the impact on those nearest and dearest to them.
However, as Christians, there are valid reasons to rejoice when someone, young or old, departs to be with Christ which is far better than living out your years here, especially if they are martyrs. The church has a long and glorious history celebrating those who were cut off in the prime of life or even as young people who died on the mission field or as a result of persecution. Many Christians celebrate the short life of Jim Elliott for example. In the nineteenth century many missionaries from Europe left for Africa in almost complete certainty of losing their lives very quickly to disease, wild animals or antagonistic natives. These days you could volunteer to bring the gospel to Afghanistan or other places in the Middle East and run a real risk of not returning. If you die that way then it is glorious normally. Certainly many of our brothers and sisters in many parts of Asia run the same risks and gain the same glory on a regular basis. Not being afraid of death and being prepared to die for the sake of the Gospel is a clear Christian prerogative (e.g. Rev. 12:11).
3. So why did God create the earth then?
My friend is a deep thinker. This question naturally falls out of the previous ones. If a short cut to heaven is the best approach to life then why is the daily toil and general tedium of life entertained by so many Christians?
I started by referring to a scene in Bruce Almighty. In the film, God (played by Morgan Freeman) gives Bruce (played by Jim Carrey) His job for a while. Bruce’s main concern is to win the love of Grace (played by Jennifer Aniston). At a pivotal moment in the film Bruce asks God why he can’t get her to love him without violating her free will? God replies, “If you find the answer to that question, let me know.”
God wants us to love Him. But there is simply no way to do that without them choosing to love freely. It makes no sense to say to someone “I love you” if you have no choice. So we are given lots of choices, starting with Adam and the forbidden fruit, and going right through to the many and various temptations to love money and the things it can buy today.
Life is a series of tests and choices. God wants us to choose life, love and truth, i.e. Him. The more we make the right choices in life, the more we fall in love with Him. If we love Him we will obey Him. If we obey Him we will be happy and fulfilled whether we live or die.
In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul also gave another good reason for continuing to live in this life in the same letter in which he says it is better to depart and be with Christ: to somehow to attain to the resurrection (out) from (among) the dead, i.e. the first resurrection (see Rev. 20). I deal with this idea in other blogs on overcomers.
We ended by praying Paul’s prayer from Colossians 1:9,10 “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way”
The answer is always to fall in love with God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then, out of that overflow, to love your neighbour as yourself.