Living to die or dying to live?

Posted on October 23, 2006
Filed Under Timeless Questions | Leave a Comment

tomb-stone.jpg In the book Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie Schwartz, who is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, tells his former student, “Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it.” Because Morrie knows that he was going to die soon, he decides to give great thought to how he will use the rest of the time he has to live. So often, though, we don’t know how to talk about the subject. It is like the life insurance salesman who said to the prospective client, “If you should die …” There are no if’s and’s or but’s about it–everyone is going to die. The question is: Are you living to die or dying to live?

What I mean is that there are at least two ways to look at our life: from a physical perspective and from a spiritual perspective. One could say, “I am alive and growing, working out, eating right, and I am more alive than ever before,” even though that person is aware that one day he or she will die. Or, one could realize that in many ways each day of life is actually one step closer to death. I am not trying to be overly morbid, but physically that’s reality.

There may be another way to look at life, though, and that is from the spiritual perspective. Most religions in the world hold to the belief that there is some type of existence after physical death. For many of those religions, how we live our life here on earth plays a role in what happens after death. For those religions that believe in some type of “heaven” and “hell,” not everyone has the same destiny. Even the system of reincarnation is based upon progress and regress in coming lives. If it is true that one’s life continues after physical death, then it is also true that with every passing day each of us is progressing not only toward death, but also toward eternity.

Now, life and death take on a new perspective. Spiritual life is being present with God in eternity. Spiritual death is being separated from God in eternity. Of course, there are many different religions and many different concepts of the afterlife, but one thing that can be understood for certain is that they cannot all be correct. Something (or nothing, as some believe) is going to happen, and it will be the same “system” for all of us. It cannot be that those who believe in reincarnation will go that way while those who believe in heaven or hell will be judged that way and that the atheist will simply cease to exist.

Physically everyone is in the process of dying; spiritually it is another story. Some people may be living to die, meaning that they are currently alive physically, but are heading toward spiritual death. Others may be dying to live, meaning that while they are in the process of dying physically, they are headed toward spiritual life. The question everyone would like to know the answer to is: How can I be certain what happens after death?
Morrie Schwartz knew that he was going to die, so he used his time and life more fully and purposefully as a result. Settling the issue of spiritual life and death also has a profound effect on one’s physical life. Just imagine what it would be like if you knew for sure what would happen right after you die.

It is common today to believe that nobody can know for sure what will happen after death, but often times that is simply an excuse for not dealing with the question, which is an uncomfortable one. Is it possible that there is a way to answer the question and to be sure? Jesus Christ made a very interesting statement. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” You will have to decide for yourself, but it sounds like he is on to something.

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