At the Evening of Life, We Shall Be Judged On Our Love

Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Bischheim, Église protestante luthérienne de Notre-Seigneur-Jésus-Christ, Peinture "Le Christ aux limbes" (XXe)
Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Bischheim, Église protestante luthérienne de Notre-Seigneur-Jésus-Christ, Peinture "Le Christ aux limbes" (XXe) (photo: Screenshot)

My husband’s uncle died Sunday. He was 82, and had lived a good life.

Before he died, he saw his dead sister, our Aunt Tid, and his mother. That’s not uncommon when we are nearing the end of this life. We get glimpses of the new life we are about the enter.

My guess is that God sends loved ones to us, to help us make that transition, that they are a welcoming committee of sorts. I believe God sends our angels, alongside our loved ones who have passed ahead of us, to lead us home.

Death is not annihilation. Your body and soul will be separated for a time, but you will not stop existing, not even for a moment. On that day, you will hear someone say, You are mine.

In that moment, we will enter the embrace of the one we have chosen to follow, the one for whom we have lived. Will it be Jesus?

You are mine. You belong to me.

We all die. You will die. I will die. Everyone alive will die. We have no choice in that. But we choose whose voice we will hear when we cross over. We choose now, here, each day of our earthly existence, as we decide who we will follow and who we will trust.

Do you trust Jesus? Do you follow Him?

It’s a simple yes/no question. If you do not follow Christ, then you follow the enemy. Even if you do not believe in Jesus, even if you think that Satan is a joke, the stuff of Halloween costumes and carnival side shows, you are in fact and for real making a choice that affects your eternal existence. You are free, absolutely free, to choose who will greet you when you enter eternal life.

You can choose Christ or reject Him. You can follow Christ or the world. God will not force you or bully you in any way about this choice. You choose. Do you accept Jesus as your savior and follow Him, or not?

God places before us life and death. We choose. The one thing we can’t do is take a pass. To reject Christ is to choose death.

Our Church teaches that people who do not know Jesus, who have not heard of Him, can still enter heaven through His grace, by following the light they are given. No one enters heaven except by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. But He extends His mercy to those who, through no fault of their own, have not heard of Him, and who follow Him unknowingly by the light of their inherent knowledge of natural law.

God implanted a basic understanding of right and wrong in every human heart. Everyone knows, whether they choose to deny it or not, that the murder of innocents is sin that brings down blood guilt on the one who commits it. All people understand that cruelty and abuse of the helpless are wrong. Every person on this planet knows that it is wrong to lie, steal, commit adultery; that avarice to the point of destruction of others is a sin. Every person, from the most base psychopath to the head hunting cannibal, knows these things.

That is Natural Law. It is the God-given sense of right and wrong that is ours as beings who are made in the Image and Likeness of the eternal One Who made everything, everywhere. Even people who have never heard the name of Christ possess the knowledge of God that comes from His image imprinted on their souls. If they follow the knowledge of God that they have, His mercy will bring them home.

This is not true for those who have the opportunity to take hold of the fullness of Grace in Christ and who refuse Him outright. It is certainly not true for those who attack and persecute Him by attacking His followers. They can not say they have never been told. They reject salvation of their own free choice.

It is a simple thing to die, a matter of going home. The sickness and suffering that can precede death, the physical breaking down and destruction that the body goes through as it dies, is hard. It can be, if we choose to use it that way, the chance to suffer purgatory now, in this life. The actual death, the stepping out and over, is easy. If you are His, death is as simple as a child, laying its head on its Father’s shoulder.

When we die, someone will say to us, You are mine.

We choose now who that will be.