What Happens When We Die?

Living forever sounds great...but what actually happens when we die?

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. How does a fear of death affect your decision making?
  2. Do you find Jesus's promise of eternal life compelling? Why or why not?

Several philosophers have pointed out and made the case that underlying all of our energy and our action and all of civilization is a fear of death. It's a terror of death. This may be masked, but it keeps surfacing through most of our behavior, and they give an example of four narratives connected to death where we try and respond to it. The first one is the issue of prolonging our lives, whether it's through vitamin cleanses or juicing or plastic surgery or technology, we have a desire to prolong our biological lives. The other narrative is the narrative resurrection that says that we will get our bodies back, that God will resurrect us. Another narrative is the immortality of the soul, that there's a disembodied place that we all go to, or even people who don't believe in those things can often believe that they want to live forever by the sense of legacy, that they want to set up an endowment or live such a compelling life that generations from now, people will look for them. So there is a primal, driving sense underneath all of our behavior that does desire to live forever. I think that Jesus addresses this issue almost better than everyone, and I think he combines all of those things. Uh, Jesus does promise to give us eternal life, not just an extension of human life, but the very life of God inside of us. He promises to resurrect our bodies, uh, that they will be somehow glorious like his. He promises that, that we will have an eternity, that we, that there will be an endless time where we step into the fullness of God's kingdom. And lastly, that works do carry on, that what we do in this life does matter for good or for bad. And he invites us to live in ways that work towards eternal life. So I think that underneath all of our behavior is this fear of death and a longing to solve it, and of all the religious options and philosophical options, I think Jesus weaves them together in the most compelling and beautiful way.