John 10:14-15: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

Not everybody is on board with the afterlife – assuming that once our bodies are dead, we are completely gone. Well, here is the good news: a person is way more than just a physical appearance (a good thing to remember if you happen to struggle with yours). The soul is the part of us that passes on, the body is the part that is buried in the ground.

If you are skeptical of the claim that there is an “eternal human soul”, then the terminology “spiritually dead” will probably make even less sense. Maybe it’s helpful to think of a spiritually dead person as a human being without a conscience. We all are born with one. If we succeed in overriding this God-given inner compass we’ll end up spiritually dead. Despite our physical heart still beating, we have no heart.

In matters of the heart, the Christmas story “How the Grinch stole Christmas” comes to mind. The author Dr. Seuss wrote about his main character, the Grinch:

“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

A heart two sizes too small is bad news. We need to get a little love in our hearts – and not just around the Christmas season.

Without roots, a plant withers and dies; rootless, we as human beings will have a hard time. Our need for God is elementary. We came from God, that’s why we need to return to Him to be complete.

Jesus’s resurrection is an amazing milestone in the history of mankind. When Jesus was resurrected His body and soul were reunited, and He was restored to the Trinity; the same will happen to us when we believe in Him.

Luke 9:23-24:”Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.'”

One of the tell-tale signs that Jesus’ ministry on Earth was coming to a close were His early predictions of His upcoming arrest. He was on the road to Jerusalem where He knew He’d face certain death. Yet He kept on walking. His mind was made up. Approaching Jerusalem, Jesus addressed the crowd with the following words (Luke 9:24):

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.”

Jesus walked the talk. He did not hang on to His own life; giving up His life He saved it as God resurrected Him on the Third Day; and by freely giving His life He ultimately saved the world.

When we departed from the Garden of Eden we left God and got further and further away from Him; God on the other hand did not leave us. Even though the human situation got really nasty, He still did not drop us like a hot potato. Instead, we experience the goodness of the Lord on any given day when He helps us out and leaves us gifts; He lets the Sun shine on the good and the bad. Some actually take offense to that and say: that’s not fair. Our God does not intend to be fair. Our God is extremely generous and very patient. Thank God that He is!

Our faltering attempts to live a good life on this planet have not gone unnoticed. God came to our rescue. Jesus’s death on the cross is a martyr’s death – He died the death of a criminal and didn’t deserve it. However, there’s more to the story: He died so we can live.

Similar to being caught in quicksand, our failures lead to yet more failures. Jesus broke this vicious cycle. He accepted the consequences of our shortcomings in our stead. The buck stops right there – at the cross. Jesus on the cross lived our pain, breathed in our brokenness and exhaled His last breath in death to save us from the repercussions of all our bad choices. Instead of punishment God’s open arms are wide, ready to receive us back.

Our heavenly Father loves to be gracious! Jesus is a hero in the Father’s eyes because what His heart wants most – extending grace to all His estranged children – is now happening on any given day. People realize one by one that they are loved by God and that the doors to reconciliation are wide open. Reunions take place. People find Heaven or Heaven finds them. Jesus’ sacrificial death enables grace upon grace.

The longer we live the more God’s belief in us strikes us. Yes, this is an astounding fact: God believes in us – so much so that He bet His Son’s life on it. He invests in us by withholding nothing and giving it all! If God so fully invests in us why wouldn’t we take a step of faith and invest in Him?

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Psalm 73:25-26: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

A few years ago, I found myself hospitalized with congestive heart failure. If there is such a thing as muscle memory, then this memory is indelibly written into my heart muscle. My heart remembers and my body remembers. My body also remembers the time when all my organs worked seamlessly. Unfortunately, this physical reality does not last.

The physical reality is: nothing we build lasts. Eventually, everything turns into trash – recyclable trash hopefully, but trash nonetheless. Here comes Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street:

“I have here a sneaker that’s tattered and worn
It’s all full of holes and the laces are torn
A gift from my mother the day I was born
I love it because it’s trash

Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Yes, I love trash!”

Oscar the Grouch loves trash. And we too are trashy people of sorts – we all love things that don’t last. As much as we get a kick out of health and well-being while the hormone flow is just right, our brains function and we can articulate ourselves, all these functionalities will end up in dysfunction as we age – not to mention human beings whose bodies feel like a war zone right from infancy.

As much as we like to deny it, we die at some point. Nobody is exempt; we all have to deal with it. The good news is: we are recyclable. Our bodies may fall apart, but thank God! Our souls are in for the long haul; our souls live forever.

It is faith that turns trash into gold. Futility and meaninglessness evaporates by the touch of His hand: If we call death a major dysfunction, then Jesus came to restore us to functionality – Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

My heart is set on eternity. I embrace the Lord in my thoughts, and He gives me Life that defies death and is filled to the brim with exhilarating love.