The Other Side
On Sunday we started a new series called “The Other Side.” On the surface it appears to be a series on death, but really it is a series about putting life in perspective. It’s built on the basic understanding that you cannot live life to the fullest until you gain a proper perspective on death. I’ve been asked by a number of people why we are doing a series on this topic and why we are starting the New Year with this series. So, I put together a Top 10 list of why I believe this series is so important. Here is my list:
1. Facts of Life: Death is a biological fact of life. We will all experience it, so why not talk about it? Every culture recorded in history has had some concept of life after death, so we need to talk about why this is the case.
2. The Bible: Death plays a prominent role in Scripture. It is actually one of the keys to Romans and understanding the state of our world. Jesus says that death is the key to life and actually requires out of His followers (see John 12:23-26 for one example). On top of that, Scripture also tells us that we should think of our death frequently. Psalm 39:4-5 says, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” I’m going with the Psalmist on this one.
3. The Great Equalizer: No one, not an atheist scientist or a Christian preacher, can “prove” what happens after death. So we’re all taking a gamble with what we believe about life after death. This is one of many reasons why death is the great equalizer in our world today. I believe part of my job is to get you thinking about the wager you are making with your life no matter what you believe.
4. Our Culture: Our culture has a “death avoidance” syndrome that is fairly unique to our modern, Western culture. We like to bury our grief and don’t like to go to funerals. We shelter ourselves from the reality of death by putting the elderly in nursing homes. We even have all sorts of euphemisms for death like “He’s gone” or “She’s passed away” or “We lost him” rather than saying “She’s dead.” To put it bluntly: We don’t like to think or talk about the subject. On top of that, ethical questions such as “Should we prolong our death by taking anti-aging pills?” will be a very real question many people today will face in the near future. To adequately take part in this discussion, we must educate ourselves on the subject of death.
5. Eternal Focus: Our culture also lives fairly “in the moment.” We cling to slogans such as “carpe diem,” which is not bad as long as we understand that we are to live today in light of eternity. I believe we as a culture have lost our understanding of eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity on the hearts of human beings, so we’re going to need to recover what has been lost here. As far as timing goes, many people are going to try to live out their New Year’s resolutions and fail miserably. I believe to think about eternity makes you engage rather than disengage the world around you.
6. Christian Perspective: Pop culture (movies, music, books, plays, etc.) is going to influence what you believe about death, so we must look at what a Christian perspective is on the subject. There are many myths, half-truths and even some ridiculous notions about life after death. We need to see what Scripture says about it.
7. Authenticity: This is a sermon series for Harris Creek (duh). It’s not for anyone else. If others get something out of it via our podcast, that is great, but this is a series for our Body and no one else. One thing we value at Harris Creek is living in authentic community. If we are going to live in authentic community, we need to talk about the subject of death and grief.
8. I Was Told To: One of my favorite professors in seminary, Dr. Levi Price (who is also a member at Harris Creek), said you should preach on death at least once a year and remind people to plan for their funeral. I trust Dr. Price’s experience, so I’m doing it!
9. Experience: Speaking of experience: In case you didn’t know this already, I’m a 28 year-old pastor. I get told frequently that I don’t have enough experience to preach on “fill in the blank.” Death is one subject that I can preach on because NO ONE reading this blog or listening to the sermon has experience in this arena (or you would already be dead). As far as the grieving of loved ones, I do have experience in that arena that allows me to address this topic. So, I may not be able to tell you how to find meaning in retirement, but I can talk about this subject with some authority.
10. Resurrection: I believe there is actually great Scriptural, historical and scientific evidence to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. We are going to explore how if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, it changes everything.