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A thought: Outing death

“Don’t forget, you’re going to die,” the message on the screen read. It was from an app that sends five e-mails each day with the sober reminder that death is inevitable. The app is called WeCroak.

It’s a little flippant perhaps, but some appreciate the reminders. As one commented, “With so many stimuli coming at you, it’s nice to have something in your pocket that slows you down, lets you look at the big picture” (Reuters, January 10, 2018). Others suggest that the notices about death are liberating because they are reminders that there is nothing more than the days of one’s life. More than 100,000 people use the app, and most of them are under the age of 44.

Yet we live in a world that has a deep desire to ignore death. But death can be ignored only for so long. We are reminded again and again that death comes to the young, successful, and famous. Consider the recent death of Kobe Bryant. Of course, we still ignore death and don’t read the obituaries unless someone we know has died.

The cofounder of WeCroak traces its origin to a Buddhist idea called “death awareness,” which is to help people embrace uncertainty and feel the spiritual urgency required to change your life for the better (Reuters, January 22, 2020). Obviously the idea is not Christian. It seeks to change behavior by asking people to face the reality of death.

When death circles nearby, we can turn to the app we do have—the Scriptures and God’s rich promises there. We will live.

Facing the end of life has its benefits. We prepare for retirement because we know that we are getting older. In other words, we are not going to live forever here. We ask lawyers to make wills so that what God has given us can be distributed according to our wishes when we die. We may even plan our own funerals.

But let’s make this Christian. What if instead of an app that reminds us five times a day that we will die, a different app reminds us that we have eternal life in Christ. That app could send us pertinent Bible passages. We have a Bible full of them:

  • Job’s confession: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25,26).
  • And the words of Jesus—oh, there are so many: “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40).
  • Or his words to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).

You have a favorite, I’m sure.

Those promises motivate us not with the harsh contemplation of our own deaths, but with the joyful and positive news that Jesus has outed death for us. He’s revealed the truth of his victory over death. That might be an app for all people of all times. It’s an Easter app that motivates us to live our lives in hope and peace—living each day to the fullest.

I don’t think there is an app like that, but we have regular reminders—like Easter Sunday—that we will live because of Christ’s empty tomb. Every Sunday is a celebration of his victory. When death circles nearby, we can turn to the app we do have—the Scriptures and God’s rich promises there. We will live. Death has no sting, and the grave no victory.

Author: John A. Braun
Volume 107, Number 04
Issue: April 2020

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