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Thursday, January 14, 2010

You're already dead

It’s pitch black in the dead of night. A song floats across a field, its words lost on the warm currents of the summer night. A group of men, soldiers, faces painted in shadows and darkness, sit talking in their foxhole as their enemy sings from their own foxholes on the other side of the field – the field upon which they fought only hours before, the field upon which their brothers fell to the fire of hostile bullets. German bullets, fired by an occupying force of invading foreigners that now held a garrison outside of Carentan, France. A soldier named Blithe tells how he came to be there. He was separated from his unit after having blacked out in fear after parachuting in. When he came to, his unit had left him, so he just hid there in the ditch.

“You know why you hid in that ditch Blithe?”

“I was scared.”

“We're all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there's still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. All war depends upon it.”




The scene is from the acclaimed HBO mini-series Band of Brothers which tells the tale of Easy Company, of the 101st Airborne Division’s time in Europe during World War 2. I’m not the first person to quote this scene for this purpose, and I’m sure I will not be the last. This scene has come to my mind a lot these past few weeks as I think about my life, the decisions that have brought me to where I am, and where I will go next. It is easy to get bogged down with life, its pursuits and goals. It is easy to get so focused on what we are striving after that the big picture gets blurry. Our perspective gets distorted and we feel lost. We feel scared. We feel alone. If only we could embrace this philosophy, really embrace it. If only we could remember this simple fact. We’re already dead.

It is easy to say that. It’s easy to think about it. It’s harder to live though. As men, born into this world, we are born dead. That is our only birthright. It is all we have to claim. Sure, we can do many things while we live, but in the end, no one gets out alive. As Christians, we are dead to the world. We died in Christ. Done. Over. Dead. Surely we will live again. That is our hope after all, hope in the resurrection from the dead, a hope based on our faith, a future pledged to us by a promise, by the seal of the Holy Spirit living in us. That Spirit who raised Christ from the dead also now dwells in us who believe, that as He lives, so too will we live. But here is where Western Christianity seems to have lost it. I was taught my entire life that eternal life starts now. I have the Spirit living in me. Life is now. God will bless me if I obey. God will show favor to his children by blessing them now. I can no longer read Scripture and come to that conclusion. The only thing the Bible promises me, as a follower of Christ, is that I will be an enemy of all. The world will hate me. It will seek to destroy me. And, in the end, it might succeed.

I am not promised any hope in this life. I am like Blithe, sitting in my little ditch. My whole life people taught me to have hope. To strive to achieve things. To make something of myself. Get an education. Get a job. Get a wife. Raise a family. Grow old. Die at a nice old age surrounded by loved ones. Vanity of vanity, all is vanity! My mistake? I still thought there was hope. There isn’t. Not in this life. It is easy to say that this life doesn’t matter, that we’re already dead. It is another thing to actually believe it. The sooner we accept it, the sooner we can function as we are supposed to, as aliens, foreigners for whom this world is not our home. If I have been crucified with Christ, and am reckoned as dead, I ought not cling to this life, its dreams, its pursuits. But you know what? Even something that is mortally wounded, only moments from death, still strives to move forward. It clings to the last vestiges of life with its dying breath. Even though it knows it is as good as dead, and that nothing can stop its fatal slide into darkness, still it claws forward until its life is spent. If only we could just let it all go. If only we could forget it all and live this life as we ought to, as we ought to in light of our impending death. If only we could proclaim with Paul that we have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer us who lives, but Christ in us. If only we could genuinely abandon all value for our lives and pursue the Kingdom with hearts devoted to it, without reservation. If only we could abandon hope in a life now for the hope of a life to come. If only we could accept it. “You’re already dead.”

Dead people do not hope. They do not dream. They do not fight back. Those who are dead are free of the burden of caring for anything in their life. That life is over. There is no going back. There is only the life of another. His life. His dreams. His goals.

“…you think there's still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead.”

There is no hope. Not in this life.

You’re already dead…

3 Comments:

Blogger janberry said...

Dag, Mike...just this weekend I said this to my fellowship..I'm gonna link to this article from my website: www.fruitofdivine.com....

10/04/2010 8:38 PM  
Blogger William said...

Awesome word bro. Preaching through Colossians chapter 3. This preaches well, was looking for example "already dead" see you in heaven lets go fight a war already won. Happy thanksgiving

11/25/2010 10:30 AM  
Blogger george.parra said...

We are already dead in some type of limbo. Modern science says the world is 99.999999 empty space which means what we experience is a ghost world. We are literally ghost's. Floating in something we call the universe but do not have any idea what the hell it really is or where we are. In fact, science says there is nowhere. Its called non-locality.

2/25/2011 7:06 AM  

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