The Symbiosis of Life and Death
Life and death. Death and life. You don’t have one without the other. It is the human condition.
This relationship is a truth we all eventually learn in our lives. In many ways, this is the central journey I help youth walk through their childhood. The ways they experience this truth may be small and trivial when they are young, but they need someone to guide them as they experience all these life experiences that mark beginnings and endings. Sometimes it is the death of a friendship because they have to go to a different school. Sometimes it is the excitement of moving for a new career or college, but having to say goodbye to lifelong friends. Sometimes it is the ending of a romantic relationship as they discern the right person to promise their life and love.
Though our current views of “the good life” may differ, this relationship between life and death is found throughout scripture. In the story of Jesus’ birth, we meet a man named Simeon. God promised he would see the Messiah before he died, and in Luke 2:25-35 we hear him proclaim upon meeting Jesus, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” Simeon is blessed with meeting the promised Messiah (life), but knows that his own life will be coming to an end soon.
This is the story of Lent - a story that begins with Ash Wednesday. You don’t have Easter without Good Friday; you don’t have Good Friday without Easter. Easter without Good Friday is a shallow, self-help oriented life that avoids hardship and the difficult work of loving human beings. It harnesses the positive while shunning the negative. Good Friday without Easter is a despairing life that struggles to comprehend unconditional love and has little to hope for beyond this life. It is a life yoked to the negative while snubbing the positive.
There is no resurrected life without death - this is what we discover on our journey to the cross. Throughout our lives, God calls us to die to our own desires and to follow the way of Jesus. By dying to our own desires, God leads us toward a more perfect faith marked by peace, love, and joy.
Dying to our own desires takes trust and work. It takes prayer and tuning our ears to God. It takes dwelling with God’s Word and letting it shape our lives. It takes repentance and trusting in God’s Spirit to reform us. It takes the work of God’s grace to lead us from death and into life.
Life and death. Death and life. Bedfellows in our walk with God.