November 19th, 2119. One hundred years from now.
This date isn’t in some science fiction movie. It’s in your calendar. Pull up the calendar app on your phone and let me know what’s on your agenda for that day.
I’m guessing none of us have scheduled that far out.
And that’s the point: life ends. Our story has an end.
Now, as a storyteller and someone who thrives on everything pertaining to plot, structure, style and so on, I really pay attention to how stories end. When someone tells a story, the ending must be known in the mind of the teller. You can’t tell a story without knowing the ending! Just as a comedian can’t tell a joke without the punchline, without a story’s end, there’s no story, no plot–nowhere to go.
Yet that’s what the Gospel is all about. Christ is the “end” (telos) of our lives. He is the point at which it all finds meaning and cohesion. Whether you call this the Rock (1 Cor. 1:23) or Logos (John 1:1), all will ultimately bow before him as such (Phil. 2:10).
But Christ “ending” us is not a termination of existence. It’s a transformation, a giving of new, eternal life.
The familiar verse of John 3:16 talks about “eternal life” awaiting those who believe. Yet this life is not a future destination. It has already begun, as Paul says in Galatians:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).
He adds onto this in Romans:
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:5).
This “resurrection” has yet to happen. It’s essentially a promise. It’s what’s called the “already-not-yet” vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, in which God has already brought us new life in Christ even though we have yet to see it perfected.
The author of Hebrews, while discussing the noteworthy saints in chapter 11’s “Hall of Faith”, says this startling bit about this:
“These [past saints] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
Apart from Christ everything we build for ourselves on Earth will end (Heb. 12:25-29).
So if we don’t find our death in Christ now, then our bodily death will always come too soon.
In Christ, our bodily death always comes as overdue.