Aug 312017

Death and the great commandments

Death and the great commandments

The last 3 weeks has been a roller coaster of emotions. As many of you know, my mother-in-law, Linda, was admitted to the hospital. Three weeks later, she passed into the arms of our Lord. Her death was a peaceful one.

For many years now I have found myself looking at the question of mortality. It comes and goes. It is not like an obsession, but rather a passing thought. And when someone close to me passes, it revives that thought.

As human beings we are frail. Scripture tells us life is like a vapor that is here, then gone. (James 4:14) King Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that everything is vanity. He rails about how wisdom, toil, life in general is all vanity.

So what is the point of this existence? In Micah 6:8 I believe we find the answer:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Our calling in life is to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. Jesus summed it up like this:

Yeshua said to him, “The first of all the commandments: ‘Hear Israel, THE LORD JEHOVAH your God, THE LORD JEHOVAH, he is One.’ And you shall love THE LORD JEHOVAH your God with your whole heart and with your entire soul and with your entire mind and with all your power.’ This is the first commandment and the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

We have the two great commandments: Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself. That is it! There is no greater commands than this!

Yet, as I sat day after day in the hospital I saw some of the worst and best of humanity. I saw some people who were healthcare workers who did not seem to care about the people they were tasked with helping. There were families who came to visit their loved one and left swearing never to return. I saw a dozen people who never had a single visitor.

It made my heart hurt. And then there were those who went out of their way to care for the patients. The few families who came to visit their loved ones daily. There were those who stayed by their loved one’s side night and day.

We spend so much of our energy on things that really do matter in the long run. I realized just how much “vanity” we spend our energy on as I watched Linda decline in health. I also saw just how much time we spend on things that divide us rather than bind us together.

It is time that we as Christians start living those two great commandments. It is time we truly live up to the name “Christian”. Do you treat others like you want to be treated? Or do you treat them with disdain and anger? Do you yell and scream at people when they make mistakes or do you take time to talk to them rationally and find out where they are coming from? It is times like this that you have a chance to show true Christian love and to help them. You never know what they are going through!

Deacon Dana and I were standing in the line at the hospital cafeteria the day before her mother passed. It was obvious that we were in distress and we knew that Linda would not live much longer. Several people in line were very impatient with us and acted as though we were in the way. The wonderful lady waiting on us took the time to ask if were ok. We told her about the situation and she took time to comfort us. She was patient and kind. She was a true Christian.

I know life is difficult for many people. But that does not give us a right to treat people badly. Rather we need to seek to understand what they are going through and to offer them our assistance.

Because life really is but a vapor, may our last act be one of love!