22 March 2018
Perhaps our deepest fear is the fear of extinction, death or, to put it more simply, the fear that we will be no more. Young people may not think so much about this but when you reach your sixties, it is never far away, ‘Every Third Thought’ as Robert McCrum entitled his recent memoire.
This fear also has a good and a bad outcome. The fear of extinction encourages us to make the most of the present moment. Life is precious. It’s too short for worry and revenge, jealousy and spite. ‘Live one day at a time!’ was Jesus’ answer to the things which make our days so fearful.
On the other hand, the fear of extinction makes some people focus too readily on material things – the pursuit of wealth and eternal youth and all that strives to deny age, the dissolution of the body and the inevitability of death. ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God!’ says Jesus effectively realigning our priorities.
This fear is allayed by another promise. ‘And I, when I am lifted up from earth, will draw all people to myself.’ says Jesus. Our true life is to be found in the corporate life of those who are united together in the risen Christ. This is both consoling and reassuring.
For in this place, we get the true measure of ourselves – creatures in relation to the Creator God and imperfect people along with everyone else. Illness does this most effectively, humiliating us and showing us our true humanity, a common humanity shared with all those who will one day die along with us!