Running Scared (Part Six): On Death, Pain, & Judgment

Read about what I’m doing here (including the schedule for posts). Part one here.  Part two here.  Part three here and here.  Part four here.  Part five here.

I was listening to this episode of This American Life during our trip and one of the stories was about people who fear sleep because of the reality of death.  It was interesting to hear them reflect upon the rational nature of an irrational act.  That is, they are right, but they can’t go without sleep because of it.  In this section of Running Scared, Edward Welch addresses the fear that we have of death, pain, and judgment – though it seems that focus was mostly on the topic of judgment.  For the first time, reading this book, I was not completely captured by Welch’s discussion.  However, I did find many good thoughts and encouragements in these chapters.  Maybe its just me and where I am at this particular point in my life.

Here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  • Again Welch shows us how our fears can be used for our benefit:  “…, if you reject the King or are a mere dabbler in the kingdom, then your present fear and anxiety are a blessing.”
  • I liked this question on page 218 (I find the imagery helpful):  “The issue can be put this way:  which direction do you face?  Is your face turned toward Christ or away from him.”
  • “The reality is that the Spirit convicts of sin.  One piece of evidence of kingdom life is that you will see more sin, not less.”  Our attitude toward this statement will reveal, I think, our approach to walking by faith in Christ.  If this statement is dismaying to us, then it is possible that we have approached Christianity as more of a self-help program, rather than resurrection life.  Also, in this same paragraph on page 223 Welch reminds us of this:  “The battle [against sin] means you are alive.”
  • With regard to our feelings and our sense of condemnation, Welch simply says:  “God must win in this interpretative battle.”  I think this is another good way of looking at our feelings and our lives – it does require some interpretation and some parsing.
  • The theme of kingdom living and kingdom truth continues to come up:  “What have I seen in my own heart?  Typically it comes down to my attempts to establish my own kingdom rather than say that God is God and I trust him.  I have a hard time believing words that seem to be good to be true.”
  • Overall, I did really appreciate the emphasis and re-emphasis of the Gospel in this section.
  • Finally, I thought chapter twenty-one and the teaching about the Christian’s death in Christ and its impact on our physical death to be very helpful and probably the highlight of this section for me.  “But in light of the cataclysm that has already taken place at the cross, death has been robbed of some of its drama….It is hard to being dead and being alive.  But it’s true and it may be one of the most powerful assaults against the fear of death and judgment.”

What say you?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gina on September 4, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I agree, Adam–this section didn’t resonate with me as strongly as the previous ones. I suppose we’re still young enough to feel immortal. 🙂

    My big question comes from chapter 21–the idea that we’ve already died (and been raised) in Christ. Welch says that b/c we’ve already died, we have no condemnation, no shame, and no worries.

    Recently, I called out a friend on some hurtful behavior, and I know my words caused him pain, although that was not my goal. His response to me was that b/c he had been crucified with Christ, he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. And so, it isn’t HE that is being offended,b/c he’s dead, so he shouldn’t feel hurt. Do you agree (or do you think Welch would)?

    Reply

  2. Posted by adamtisdale on September 4, 2008 at 11:18 am

    That would seem a misapplication of the principle that Welch is making. I’m not sure Welch would agree with your friend either. The situation you are describing (a Christian friend confronting another) is a little different than the condemnation/worry/shame that Welch describes. I think what your friend says sounds good and spiritual, but I have concern that he is not being honest with you or himself. I still feel it if someone hurts me (physically or emotionally) and I need to be able to says as much. Christ’s death then informs not the pain I feel, but the way I respond to pain. Hard to know from here across these internets, but that is my initial thought on the matter.

    Reply

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