Job 19:25-27 (NKJV) For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another.How my heart yearns within me!
In my years of ministry one of the things I have learned is that most people fear death. While some people fear the sufferings that can accompany the process of dying, most people fear the complete eradication of their personalities.
I came face to face with this reality for the first time when my father entered the process of dying. Dad was suffering of an irreversible case of pancreatitis. According to the doctors, the only hope left was to use experimental drugs in the hope that a miracle could occur. When the doctors decided to induce an artificial coma so that he could rest, Dad begged us to not put him to sleep. We acceded to the doctor’s recommendations because we wanted to spare Dad the pains he was suffering.
My last glimpse of Dad’s conscious awareness was to see in his eyes an intense fear of the unconscious darkness that was about to overwhelm his soul. Little by little, my father’s body was overcome by the infection that had spread through his internal organs… and when the time came, I accepted the charge of taking him off the respirator and let him go in peace.
After leading his funeral service and releasing his ashes into the ocean, I made the resolute decision that when my time to die arrived, that I would pass from this life fully conscious- regardless of the pain. I want to stare at death head on- and this, without fear.
One of the reasons why we tend to think about death the least possible, is because we fear the prospect that all of the thoughts, memories, feelings, decisions, mistakes, lessons and experiences that define our personhood- will one day be snuffed out… Terminated.
The fear of our personalities being eternally extinguished is understandable since we spend most of our lives absorbed in loving ourselves, building our moral fabric and molding our personalities. Fact is that human beings put in a lot of work into developing their personhood.
God created human beings in order to enjoy an eternal, personal relationship with them. In his perfect personhood, God is primarily unblemished, unfeigned, and undistracted self-awareness. (Ex. 3:14) When he created human beings in his image and likeness, he gifted humans with the potential of experiencing the same type of self-awareness that God experiences. (Gen. 1:26)
But no one can truly know him or herself, unless they can perceive and examine themselves from an external perspective.
Human beings were created in such a way that they can only experience the gift of true self-awareness when they experience God’s affirmation of their personhood. In the same way, God’s perfect self-awareness is completed when his personhood is affirmed by other personalities.
This is exactly what occurs when God and worshipers interact.
The pleasure that both God and humans experience during worship is based upon the mutual, existential affirmation of the other. This mutual exchange of recognizing (and celebrating) the other is the foundation of the Christian understanding of salvation.
To not be recognized and affirmed as a person is what the Bible refers to as spiritual death. (Eph. 2:1-10; 11-13; 19-22; Rev. 20:14-15, et. al.)
God created each and every one of us- including our personalities- so that we can fully experience the gift of self-awareness in the personhood of God. (John 17:3)
Your persona is unique in the universe. Your personality is not an incidental quality- and God wants to save it. You as an individual will not only live as a substantial spirit-soul, but your persona and all of the experiences that have molded you, will live forever if you live in such a way that affirms the Supreme Personality of The Godhead.
When we become fully God-conscious, then we no longer fear death- because our personhood is completed through divine affirmation.
Revelation 2:17 (ESV)- He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.