Every death is a tragedy. I was watching BBC news just now and heard someone say that. We’ll get to the context in a moment. But first, do you believe it? Or are their deaths that no one considers a tragedy? Then, if you agree that every death is a tragedy, does that make you sad?
Sorry, but since the speaker made the assumption in the title, I’m not going to address those who disagree with the opening premise.
What kind of criteria do you consider to decide if every death is a tragedy?
How rich the person was?
Did they live “the good life”?
Were they a “good” person, whatever that means?
Did they end up in “a better place”?
Will they “Rest In Peace”?
Those are all interesting choices. But are they good choices? Possibly. Although, maybe not. It all depends.
The context for Every death is a tragedy
Oh no. Context. All of a sudden you’re questioning, what’s this about? How will it affect me? If so, it’s an interesting shift, We move from someone else’s death to my personal space. My ideals. My life.
Well, get ready. The context was COVID in Great Britain. Remember, it was on BBC. The topic was why are restrictions being lifted while infection rates, hospitalizations, and yes – deaths, are still too high. One of the guests, quite accurately, pointed out that every person who dies is a tragedy to someone.
That statement came right after someone else said it was good to be going back to a time with no restrictions and when you didn’t have to worry about anything.
Really? Don’t have to worry about anything? What about that person catching COVID, ending up in the hospital, and maybe dying? That’s a pretty personal death for that person. And I dare say, that person hopes her death would be a tragedy to someone.
What if someone in her family was infected, ended up in the ER, then Urgent Care, then a cemetery? Would that be a tragedy? Or would she be so cavalier about that/those death(s) as well as the death of a stranger?
There are a lot of deaths. Aren’t there lots of tragedies too?
I know, it sounds cruel to say. But then, isn’t it better to bring it up now, before it happens? Because while it may not happen in her family, it will happen in many families. Many, many, families. Just check out the chart below showing COVID deaths per day in the U.S.
That’s a lot of deaths every single day. It’s hard to believe there’s not a lot of tragedy as well.
Maybe it’s just me, although I hope not, but I can’t know how bad it is and say that I can go out with no mask, no vaccine, and no cares about what I’m doing.
Every death is a tragedy. Does that make you sad?
Doesn’t all that death make you sad?
But there’s more. How does it make you sad? Why does it make you sad? I could, and sometimes do, get into the lack of caring about other people surrounding COVID.
But that’s not where I’m going to go. I mean, this site is Which God Saves. We’re going to talk about God. About Christians, those who claim to be followers of Jesus. And in that light, I’m going to revisit the questions asked at the top related to how we decide if a death is a tragedy.
Christians should be different
Remember, we’re supposed to be different. More like Jesus, less like, well, less like non-Christians. To the extent that you can’t tell the difference, we’ve got a problem. Not only are Christians called to be different, we’re to be noticeably different. We should all know about that concept.
Salt and Light
Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
So, let’s proceed through the questions and see what we see.
A person’s death is a tragedy if they had a certain amount of wealth.
This impression is certainly put forth by news media, celebrities, other rich people, and even plenty of not-rich people. But why? And I ask why for a couple reasons. One of them is obvious in the passage below.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
Lk 16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
Ah yes, the other Lazarus. And the rich man was not a nice guy at all. Sadly, not all that different from too many of the rich and famous today. Also sadly, in terms of how he treated Lazarus, not that different from too many of us not-rich people as well. For a look at that, please see Do Christians know who is poor?
Lk 16:22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
I wonder. Back then and today, who’s death is mourned the most? Maybe even mourned at all? And let’s not forget, why? But we’ll get to why in a moment.
23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
Even here, after death, one in Heaven and one in Hell, the rich man still expects Lazarus to be beneath him. And therefore, it just makes sense to the rich man that Lazarus should make him comfortable. So bizarre. And yet, so ordinary.
Lk 16:25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
Now, Abraham explains things to the rich man. Do you think the rich man got it?
Lk 16:27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
It’s tempting to think the rich man got it. Until we read send Lazarus to my father’s house! This rich man still wants Lazarus to do his bidding. Wow. And someone, we tend to have such a fascination with the rich people. And mourn their deaths, even though we don’t know them at all. And all the while, we tend to either ignore or curse the mere presence of the homeless people.
Lk 16:29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
Lk 16:30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Lk 16:31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
It seems the rich man didn’t get it. Neither will lots of other people.
Unfortunately, reality tells us that rich people’s deaths are considered a tragedy, while the poor among us are not. There’s a good chance of a sliding scale between the two extremes as well. More money equals bigger tragedy. No money means no one even notices.
A person’s death is a tragedy if they lived “the good life”
What is “the good life”? Here’s what Webster’s Dictionary says.
Definition of the good life
- 1 US : the kind of life that people with a lot of money are able to have
She grew up poor, but now she’s living the good life.
- 2: a happy and enjoyable life
She gave up a good job in the city to move to the country in search of the good life.
So, it could be money. Or it could be lack of stress. Actually, the “good life” is probably different depending on who we ask.
As such, whether or not someone’s death is a tragedy probably depends on their definition of the good life, and whether or not they were able to live it. Why? Because friends are probably the ones that consider someone’s death or just another event. That is, absent the money stuff above.
But look what Jesus said about friends in the passage below.
Jesus at a Pharisee’s House
14:8-10 Ref—Pr 25:6, 7
Lk 14:1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.
Lk 14:5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.
Lk 14:7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Lk 14:12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Check out that last paragraph one more time.
“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Don’t invite our friends. Invite poor strangers. That is so not what we all do. We invite the people who think our won death will be a tragedy. At least, we think they will. And we exclude those who won’t. The fact that someone’s poor never enters into the equation. And the richer we are, the more truth there is in what I just wrote.
As Christians, are we different? Or are we just the same?
A person’s death is a tragedy if they were good people
Good people fall into very much the same criteria as those who lived the good life. Whether someone was “good people” depends pretty much on who knew them. And one person’s idea of a good person might be very different from another person’s.
This one is just begging for trouble. Most Christians know this. But, do we pay attention to everything in the next passage?
The Rich Ruler – Luke
18:18-30 pp — Mt 19:16-29; Mk 10:17-30
Lk 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Lk 18:19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’’”
Lk 18:21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
Lk 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Lk 18:23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Lk 18:26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Lk 18:27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Lk 18:28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
Lk 18:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
Most of you have probably read, or heard about, this event. But try reading it without focusing on the rich ruler. Instead, focus on”
No one is good—except God alone.
Well, there goes the idea of a good person’s death being a tragedy.
A person’s death isn’t as much of a tragedy if they ended up “in a better place”
Yet again, it’s an eye of the beholder problem. A couple weeks ago I was watching news coverage. Some famous person died that day. Who it was doesn’t matter. It was a person who was into crude humor, partied a lot, Etc. And one of the people spoken to for the news piece said something along the lines of there was going to be a great big party in Heaven that night because this person was going to arrive there.
Seriously? Just how little do people know about God and who goes to Heaven? I mean, saying someone’s “in a better place” is one thing. But Heaven? However, even the “better place” statements. What do they mean? I did an article a while back on that – The problem of “a Better Place”. I leave it for you to check out. But too many people just don’t get what happens when this life ends. And that’s sad.
The ultimate question of what’s a tragedy about death – will the person Rest In Peace?
Yes, we say all those things above. And many people think they’re true. The problem is, that’s not what Jesus said.
Of course, if you’re not Christian, you may not care. Although, if you’re non-Christian and still reading, I do pray that you want to check this out and investigate further. Because if I’m right, and I obviously feel I am, a whole lot of people, including some who claim to be Christian, are not going to Rest In Peace.
The Sheep and the Goats
Mt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Mt 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
Mt 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Mt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
Mt 25:44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
Mt 25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Mt 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Please notice – this is addressed to Christians and non-Christians alike. Many who claim to be Christian, true followers of Jesus, will hear from Jesus, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Yes – the destination in the next life that’s not Heaven is the place prepared for the devil. Hell. Eternal fire. That’s not peace.
Conclusion – Every death is a tragedy. Does that make you sad?
Yes, every death is a tragedy. It’s true when we physically pass away.
However, it’s even more of a tragedy when someone passes away, and doesn’t go to Heaven.
Both are sad. However, consider this.
The Great Commission
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
For those of us who are Christian, Jesus commanded us to go out and try to keep people out of Hell. To go to Heaven instead, The difference is whether or not they not only know Jesus, but follow Him. Also sad is that so many of us don’t actually follow Jesus. And partly for that reason, we also don’t do anything about the Great Commission.
So which god are you counting on to save you?
The god of I can do whatever I want without caring about anything else?
For more on The Great Commission, please see Is the Great Commission for Everybody, Somebody, Anybody or Nobody?
For more on Following Jesus, please see Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God?
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