by Vince Vitale
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
I recently shared these words of Jesus with the father of my oldest friend.(1) Chris’s father, Joe, was suffering from a brain tumor, and the doctors had given him only weeks left to live.
When I walked in to see Joe, I didn’t know if he would want to talk about his approaching death. Joe had always been strong and capable. He had a voice so deep that no matter what he was speaking about, it resounded with confidence and authority, leaving little room for vulnerability.
But as soon as Joe saw me he said, “Hey Vince. Good, I’m glad you’re here. I told Chris I wanted to talk to you.” Joe went on to tell me that although he had always been confident that God exists in some way, he was finding himself increasingly scared about what comes next.
As we spoke, what became clear to me was that Joe’s understanding of the central message of Christianity was that you should try to do more good than bad in your life, and then just hope that in the end your good deeds will outweigh your bad deeds. If they do, something wonderful awaits. But if they don’t, you’re in trouble. And as Joe reflected back over his life, he recognized that if that was the case, then he had reason to fear.
Never was I so incredibly thankful to be sitting before someone as a Christian. As an atheist, I would have had to say there is no hope beyond the grave. If I adhered to almost any other religion, I would have had to tell Joe that he was basically right, and did have reason to fear what was next…
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