Public Evangelism Resources
To feed my curiosity, I've subscribed to Discover and other pop science magazines for years. This month's edition pictured an aging Mona Lisa on the cover, and one of the featured articles was titled, Immortality Within a Decade? It spoke of biological tinkering and suggested that we may be within striking distance of halting the aging process because of what we've learned from species that age far less quickly than we do. One species of jellyfish, it noted, is actually able to reverse aging and return to its polyp stage.
Apart from the notion that sinful human beings will be able to conquer death by their own efforts, the story seized my attention for another reason: the lead sentence. "The yearning for immortality dates back at least to ancient times," the authors state.
Absolutely. It bothers us that we can spend a lifetime accumulating knowledge, building relationships, and experiencing life, just to have it come to a sudden and unceremonious end. It seems like a cruel joke: our aspirations are greater than the time allotted, our thirst for knowledge is greater than the opportunity offered by the brevity of life. We discover, very quickly, that there is not time to do everything we'd like to do in life, at least not well.
Our brains tell us that we're mortal, that life is fleeting, and that nobody we know has yet managed to cheat death. We can stand at the grave of a loved one, reassuring ourselves, intellectually, logically, that death comes for all of us - but at the same time, our hearts scream that death is unfair. No amount of rationalization will convince us, ultimately, that death is not wrong. The editorial staff of Discover is sure enough of that fact that they're banking on it to sell magazines.
Even the most hardy skeptics can't help themselves when it comes to death. A few years ago, a friend of mine pointed out something interesting: when the likes of Richard Dawkins gathered to bury Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), they planted a tree on the grave. In that moment, they betrayed their lack of absolute skeptical conviction to the discerning eye: that tree was a quiet statement of hope - hope that something of Adams would continue past the grave. Evolutionary biology told them that Adams was irrevocably lost, but even their doubting hearts were fighting death at that moment.
And therein lies one of the most powerful tools in a message for the public built on Bible prophecy: our message looks past the grave and declares that there is something wrong with death. It reveals a God who also weeps at graves - a God with a plan to set things right. It validates the fact that we feel cheated and explains our profound sense of loss. It breaks through every cultural barrier to answer the most pertinent question asked by mortal human beings: why do we die, and how do we stop it?
Science hasn't been able to answer it, but I know of Someone who can.
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