I think it is a fact of life that in some ways we all live with some “what-ifs” in our life.
We live each day assuming that certain things are true and we base much of our beliefs and actions on those assumptions, “as if” they are true.
I live each day as if I am loved by my family; as if what my friends tell me is true; as if I’ll live another day; as if what I believe about life is true.
With that in mind, what if the fundamental story of the Resurrection is true? What difference does it make in my life? If it is true, then it can be hazardous to our priorities. If the Christian faith is true, then we have been dealing with life and death all wrong, completely backwards.
Most of us live with the understanding that life is short and death is forever. We tell ourselves that life goes by so fast that we want to live while we can, that life is over all too soon.
But if the Christian story is true, really true, then it is death that is short and life that is forever. We have it backwards: Death is not an eternal state; it is an event, a thing that happens, and it is life that goes on.
This explains why God does not worry much about death. God seldom intervenes to protect us from it, and even when he does it’s not for long.
Jesus says almost nothing about the ways we die, but he goes on and on about the ways we live.
You and I take death very seriously. In doing so, we miss great chunks of life by working far too much, by always getting ready for something that’s about to happen instead of fully participating in the thing that is happening. We miss it by fussing around with unimportant bits and pieces. We have been sweating the small stuff and missing the point.
If the Christian story is not true — and no one can prove it one way or the other — then we can live as if the point of life is to stay out of trouble, to get people to like you, to make money, and to postpone death as long as possible.
If it is true, then you and I can live as if what we give is more important than what we get; as if we are not Number One; as if we are truly loved by he who is Number One.
We can live as if following Jesus will get us into trouble, but the trouble will be worth it. We can live as if death is a doorway into more life no matter when we get to it.
The Rt. Rev. David C. Bane Jr. is the retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Elizabeth City. He currently serves as the bishop-in-residence at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Currituck County.