Death is an inescapable statistic that effects every living human being. Comparably, it effects all living things. In the past few months, a significant number of friends and loved ones have passed away. It causes one to consider the superstition that death hits home frequently during this ‘holiday’ time of year. I am not quite sure that it is more frequent, but I would attribute the season and family significance as playing a major role in the impact death has on family and friends. Most importantly, it causes me in particular to consider my role in those individuals lives. Did I have as much an impact on their life as their death has on mine? This hits much closer to home in the loss I experienced earlier this year when my mother had succumbed to a hard battle with cancer in a few short months. How much more do I hope that I had a significant impact on the one who bore me, nursed me, and loved me despite my past?
These are troubling questions. It is all the more troubling when I consider whether my impact was effective in changing their lives for the good. But what if the impact that one initially had was negative? What if my contribution to their life, in the long run, contributed to their death. This is such a sobering thought, because it makes you wonder why have I been left standing here to continue on, when my deeds, are much more deserving of the death endured by those I care about? Even if I made amends, and attempted to right the wrongs by doing something good for them before they died, have I truly done justice by them?
I suppose the case and point here is this. Guilt. It is powerful. It can crush someone, and it can destroy them. Guilt has certain degrees, depending on one’s conscience, but it still effects everyone of us to an extent. I am experiencing a little guilt, or say, responsibility for being the person who may have tipped the first domino in an old friends life, if I may be extreme here, many of my old friends lives. To say the least, their decisions are solely their own, but my contribution to their bad decision essentially initiated that chain of events leading to their demise. Should I feel accountable to some extent here? Should I acknowledge and accept this guilt that I may more fully repent?
One can consider Luke 9:62 and the setting of our hand to the plow and never looking back. For we shall not be worthy if our head is constantly over our shoulder, and the Kingdom will no longer be in our sight. But having been redeemed, do we now consider that the contributions, the sins against our neighbor, the life we once led is dead with the old man, or does the old man’s deeds still have bearing on our flesh. This is a tough one to meet out when we consider a Christianity that is entrenched in perfectionism and false piety, alluding to some victory over this life without trial. As if we are living our ‘best life’ now.
In a closing thought I am considering the idea posed to me by a dear brother in Christ. What was the response to Paul, now an Apostle, dead to Saul of Tarsus coming back through the towns and villages he once ravaged, seeking the blood of disciples who followed in the Way. What might have been the perception he had of the children left behind to dead fathers, imprisoned mothers. What of the widows and the stumbling blocks placed in the way of many who witnessed this man, who once committed evil in the name of religion, now proclaim the good news of eternal life? Eventually, we read that Paul’s resolve was nothing more than to know Christ and Him crucified amongst those he ministered to (1 Cor 2:2).
Christian, does your life’s history impact your future? What is now the measure of your resolve with your sins in view? Does being forgiven much cause you to love much (Luke 7:36-50)? Is the love you show a communication of the same life giving sound and voice of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves you? Tell me, are you making amends through sorrow or proclamation of the Gospel?
Yes, I feel some guilt behind the events of my past, but one faithful thing I can account to the Lord’s grace in all of this is amazing. I have witnessed His love for sinners through the opportunity given to preach Christ and Him crucified to those men before they died. We all are going to die. What is the measure of your resolve?