The following quotes caught my attention as I read Tim Keller’s new book, On Death (Penguin, 2020). This is the perfect little book that would be both edifying to a believer and also an evangelistic tract for a non-believer.
Death is the Great Interruption, tearing tearing loved ones away from us, or us from them. Death is the Great Schism, ripping apart the material and immaterial parts of our being and sundering a whole person, who was never meant to be disembodied, even for a moment. Death is the Great Insult, because it reminds us, as Shakespeare said, that we are worm food. . . . Death is hideous and frightening and cruel and unusual. It is not the way life is supposed to be, and our grief in the face of death acknowledges that. Death is our Great Enemy, more than anything. It makes a claim on each and every one of us, pursuing us relentlessly through all our days. Modern people write and talk endlessly about love, especially romantic love, which eludes many. But no one can avoid death. It has been said that all the wars and plagues have never raised the death toll—it has always been one for each and every person. Yet we seem far less prepared for it than our ancestors. (1–3)
The human race as a whole can’t not fear and hate death. It is a unique and profound problem. Religion gave people tools to help in facing our most formidable foe, and modern secularism has not come up with anything to compensate for its loss. (19)
Rather than living in fear of death, we should see death as spiritual smelling salts that will awaken us out of our false belief that we will live forever. When you are at a funeral, especially one for a friend or a loved one, listen to God speaking to you, telling you that everything in life is temporary except for His love. This is reality. (25–26)
It’s in death that God says, “If I’m not your security, then you’ve got no security, because I’m the only thing that can’t be taken away from you. I will hold you in my everlasting arms. Every other set of arms will fail you, but I will never fail you.” Smelling salts are very disagreeable, but they are also very effective. But as you’re waking from your illusions, be at peace, because here’s what Jesus Christ offers to us if by faith we have him as our Savior. (27–28)
If Jesus died so you don’t have to pay for anything in your past and he has risen to be your living Savior, then what can death do to you? (34)