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Thursday, 16 June 2016

The fragility of life.

During my adult life I have, at one time or another, voted for every major political party - and even for one or two of the 'fringe' parties!   With one exception.  I have never voted in support of any Labour Party candidate in any election in which I have taken part.  Normally, I am not unhappy to see the Labour Party experiencing any form of discomfort.

However, today's tragic murder of a sitting Member of Parliament is a shock to the system.  Oh, I know that there are parts of the world in which such politically-motivated assassinations are not uncommon.  But in the UK; in Yorkshire; in the street outside a constituency office?  That is frightening.

The late Jo Cox was not my own MP, and I only know what I have read in the media, but the young, married, mother-of-two was simply going about her lawful business when, it would appear, a crazed gunman shot her - not just once, but three times - and stabbed her.  Much will undoubtedly be made of the earlier reports that he was shouting some kind of "pro-Brexit" slogan (the MP was involved in the "Remain" campaign) but, at this moment, no-one seems to know the motivation behind the attack.

What we know, for certain, is that a man has been widowed, and two children left motherless, all because of a mindless act of violence.  It is also a reminder of the fragility of human life.  Writing to the church at large, James (the half-brother of the Lord Jesus) exhorts: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain'; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:13-14).  Centuries earlier, the psalmist-king of Israel David, had written: "As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." (Ps 103:15-16). 

It was Benjamin Franklin who said that "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  However, while many will talk (and talk, and talk!) about taxes, death has become the taboo subject in polite social circles.  Yet, while it is possible to evade, and/or avoid, paying taxes, neither money, nor influence, nor position, nor anything else can enable us to escape the cold hand of death.  And, of course, we do not know the moment in which death will strike us.

Surely, then, the sensible thing is to be prepared for that inevitable event.  How may we make such preparation?  Well, there is the legal aspect of having a will drawn up so that there can be no doubt as to what we want to happen to whatever we leave behind (and that is, of course, everything!). However, I am thinking beyond that.  

The vast majority of humankind believes - even if they do not often voice that belief - that this mortal life is not the totality of our existence.  There is a life beyond the grave for which this life is but a preparation.  Only One has offered any hope for that life - the only One to have conquered death: Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified, died, and was buried, but Who rose victoriously from the dead.  Concerning Him, the apostle Paul writes: "... Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a Man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power." (I Cor 15:20-24).

What you and I need to do is to come to Him, confessing our own sinfulness - and our inability to do anything about it - and receive the forgiveness of Almighty God that the Lord Jesus has gained for us. This is how we may meet death with a steady eye, knowing that our eternal future is safe in Him.

Whenever I conduct a funeral service I try, sensitively, to make the point that, whatever the spiritual condition of the deceased, there is nothing that I can do for them.  However, I can point those who are present to the way of salvation.  Where do you stand in relationship to Almighty God as you read this post?  If you were to die in ten minutes' time, are you fully prepared?  

Writing, again, to the Corinthian believers, Paul reminds them that: "... now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (II Cor 6:2).   Have you come to Jesus, in repentance and faith? If not, then you are not ready for death. There are a couple of useful links at the right-hand-side of this page and, of course, you may contact me by e-mail at 

When Jo Cox set off to go to her office today, I am certain that the last thought in her mind was that she would never see her husband and children again.  I don't know how prepared she was.  But what about you?  Are you prepared?

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