Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
On being and being nothing
– thoughts in a cold season
It is a strange thing about the cold. I have learnt that there is no such thing as cold. There is heat; and cold is just the absence of heat. Cold in itself is not really anything.
I am being reminded of this these days. For it certainly feels differently when the door opens, and the cold comes in. Or rather, when air comes in, in which there is no heat – as I suppose it would be more correctly described. And here we see it, once again, how absurd an absolute demand for absolute correctness is, be it political correctness or any other; such demands do nothing other than to suck the life out of life itself, and make it impossible for us to communicate, and live together, and enjoy life …
At any rate, although cold really is nothing but the absence of something else, and even though we know, we certainly experience thing differently. We even have machines to producecold, freezers and refrigerators and air conditioning; even though there is no such thing as cold.
I suppose something similar could be said about death; that there really is no such thing. Death is really nothing but the absence of life. Life is what is something.
And all the more magnificent is the mystery that there is such a thing as life, and that we live at all, considering all that it takes for us to live, all our organs functioning correctly, and all that we need to live being available – and how little it would take for us to no longer be able to live.
Holy Scripture teaches us that life is only in God, and that to be without God is death. We are only alive because God continually gives us life. And that goes for our souls as well as our bodies. The idea of an “immortal soul” is neither Biblical nor Christian.
Holy Scripture describes the eternal fate and future of unbelievers as death and eternal destruction. It also describes it as the darkness outside, away from the presence of God, and on the other hand, as being very much in the presence of God, namely in His righteous wrath and judgement, which is a flaming fire against evil.
And one cannot help but wonder: which one is it? Is it death? Is it cold and darkness? Is it a fire?
Of course we will have to accept that the eternal realities are beyond what we can fully comprehend – even though we understand them well enough from what Holy Scripture does teach. God has not subjected Himself to the demand of the obnoxious enemies of life, that all things in life must measure up to their random standard for absolute correctness.
The point is that God Himself is life. And when we turn away from Him in disobedience and defiance, it is from life itself we turn away, and we do so for an eternal fate and future so dreadful that it cannot be described in a such manner that we can comprehend it – except that we can understand that it definitelyis not life.
This is the fate the Son of God has taken it upon Himself to bear for us, He who is Himself God, and life itself: to be without God, and without life, cast out into the darkness outside, and also into the ferocious fire of the goodness of God and His hatred of evil.
And now that He is again with God in His glory, this is what He promises, and with His promises gives to us, and the eternal future awaiting all who believe His promise: that fullness of life and goodness which is in God, which we cannot even begin to comprehend, or even imagine; except that we understand that it must be the opposite of death. Even though death is really nothing. Except that it is. Kind of like the cold is really nothing, and only the absence of heat. But heat is something. As that fullness of life which is in God cannot but most certainly besomething.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem