Life is a journey that doesn’t end with death.
This was one of the consensus views shared by some panelists while discussing choices in end-of-life care at the Mid-Michigan Health Spiritual Care Conference in January. One panelist even mentioned resurrection, which got me to thinking more deeply about the connection between resurrection and choices–not just at end-of-life, but choices made throughout daily life.
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he told Lazarus’ sister Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again.” Jesus said further, “…he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:23-25)
What did Jesus mean by that? Was he implying that everyone who believes in Christ, or understands Jesus’ teachings, would experience a resurrection in some way? If so, then as radical as this may seem, ultimately, resurrection is for everyone. Maybe not exactly a return to life on earth as in the case of Lazarus, but perhaps in experiencing a new and more spiritual sense of life as immortal, without beginning or end – without death.
Perhaps it’s a little like graduating from school – usually, the culmination of much effort over many years. And this effort to become more aware of immortal being includes learning to make good choices – in how we think and act – on a daily basis. Moses said, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; … therefore choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30:15,19). He linked choosing good with choosing life.
One example of doing this, is not only to treat patients in end-of-life situations with dignity and compassion as the conference panelists advised, but to treat everyone with dignity and compassion throughout daily life. Choosing good can also include being honest, unselfish, and decent. Also, being patient and forgiving, and loving others unconditionally.
Christ Jesus’ life was a model of choosing good every moment. Was this why he was able to raise the dead? From his teachings, it is apparent that he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that life – everyone’s life – is eternal. His death by crucifixion and subsequent resurrection proved this fact. And, for the great suffering and sacrifice he endured to give us this proof, I and many others are immensely grateful. Doesn’t it behoove us to make the most of it by following his example of consistently choosing good?
By making daily choices for good thoughts and actions, we’ll land in the group St. John called “they that have done good,” whom he said would “come forth . . . unto the resurrection of life.” (John 5:29) This continual choosing of good draws us closer to realizing life eternal.
Each choice for good, therefore, is essentially a step in that direction, and, in a way, a little bit of resurrection. And this can be done by all, gently, with grace, until – wherever and whenever – we come to see clear as day that life truly is eternal.