It’s December, and many parents will be telling their children the usual fibs about a guy with a beard coming down the chimney – but I once told a little girl a much bigger lie, and it’s a lie that people repeat again and again, out of really good intentions.
I had to break some bad news to this little girl – I was the one having to tell her that a person she was very close to had died. How do you break such news to a six year old child? I felt totally out of my depth. But I had a friend who I considered wise, and who was a psychologist so she knew about child development and suchlike. So I consulted this friend – and, I’m sorry to say, I followed her advice.
Which means I lied to that little girl.
The advice I got included: it’s important to tell her that the doctors did all they could (which was probably true), and also: it’s important to tell her that this person isn’t suffering anymore.
I wish I could know that was true. With all my heart. The person who had died was someone very dear to me. Twenty years on, I’m still choking up as I think about it, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting tearful when I think of people dear to me who have died without being saved.
Which is why I feel so bad about the lie I told that little girl – because giving people false hope about life after death is a terrible thing, because it keeps them from turning to Jesus, who is the only real hope! If there was no real hope then sure, it could be good to comfort people with whatever will make them feel better for now – but when there actually is a real hope, that’s a whole different ballgame! It would be like seeing someone’s house on fire and telling them that it’s ok, fires just die out naturally and they won’t come to any harm, when in fact you know there’s a number they could dial to call the fire brigade and you could just tell them what that number is!
Jesus came to this earth to die so that we can have life – eternal life, with no pain or suffering after we die. The comforting things people so often say when someone dies – she’s gone to a better place; he’s not suffering anymore – they are true for anyone who has put their faith in Jesus, but they’re not the default setting for every human being ever born! If they were, there wouldn’t have been a need for the Messiah to be born as one of us and to die on the cross for our salvation!
This good news is for everyone. If you’re reading this and you don’t have that assurance of eternal life – don’t wait, take him up on his offer right now! Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for all the sins of all of humanity, including yours. No matter what you’ve done, no matter how messed up your life might be, or even how non-messed-up your life might feel to you right now – whatever your situation, your background, your circumstances, you need salvation and Jesus made it abundantly clear that he is the way, the truth and the life, and nobody comes to the Father except through him.
Come on in. He died for you too.