誠實的看待死亡問題──TAKING AN HONEST LOOK AT MORTALITY

大約18個月前,我到退伍軍人醫院去,那是我所在地的退伍軍人可以看病的地方。作為一名越戰老兵,我在那裡進行了例行檢查。在醫生查看了我的醫療報告後,我也要求得到一份報告的副本。

回家後,我把報告量表中顯示的數字加起來。我的各種傷殘指數(大部分與我在戰鬥中遭受的傷害有關) 總計加起來為260%,是一般人的2.5倍!並且在我去醫院的兩個月後,退伍軍人事務部的醫生告訴我,我有帕金森氏症和橙劑(除草劑)後遺症,這是在越南服役時接觸到危險的化學汙染物的結果。帕金森氏症的診斷並沒有困擾我, 因為我認識其他患病的人,知道在大多數情況下,它是可控的。

但是,我對橙劑後遺症的反應是完全不同的。因為我看著我的一個越南海軍陸戰隊的好兄弟因此喪失生命;我和其他三個一起工作的人,現在處於同樣的死亡判決之中,這是一種可怕的死亡方式。大約有半個小時,我讓自己沈浸在自憐中。我可以想起演員和電影導演伍迪•艾倫的一句話:「我不介意死亡。我只是不想在它發生時出現在那裡。」

但隨後我提醒自己,對死後的生命我抱持盼望-那是有信心的確據,這一切都是因為耶穌基督為我而死所成就的。因為罪的工價乃是死;惟有神的恩賜,在我們的主基督耶穌裡,乃是永生。」(羅馬書623從永恆的角度來看,這一生的時間幾乎只是一眨眼的事。

那你呢?現實是,無論什麼原因,我們早晚有一天都會死。人類的死亡率是百分之百。即使你是一個剛開始做生意或開展職業生涯的年輕人,這是有一天你也必須要面對的現實。如果你的年齡超過40歲,那麼你的身體和體能可能已經在走下坡了。我並不想危言聳聽,但死亡是一個不可避免的事實。我們不妨就接受它,並為它做好準備。

很多人認為 「生命盡頭 」一天比一天更近了,所以不想面對。他們吹著口哨經過墓地,表現得好像他們能找到某種免除條款。有一些世間的顧慮必須面對:例如準備遺囑的文件,涵蓋著如何處理我們的世上財產到我們希望土葬或火化等等。

但比這些更重要的一個問題是,你今天活著,是否有永生在你心裡?在你離開後,會留下什麽?你將留下什麽遺產?你是否像耶穌基督告訴祂門徒的那樣,決心 「去結果子-且是能常存的果子」?不是你們揀選了我,是我揀選了你們,並且分派你們去結果子,叫你們的果子常存,使你們奉我的名,無論向父求甚麼,他就賜給你們。」(約翰福音1516

你真的有永生的盼望嗎?聖經也談到了這一點。凡接待他的,就是信他名的人,他就賜他們權柄作神的兒女。」「神愛世人,甚至將他的獨生子賜給他們,叫一切信他的,不致滅亡,反得永生。」(約翰福音112節、3章16節

如果你知道自己在世上只剩下兩年的時間,你會怎麽做?對我來說,如果我知道自己只剩下兩年時間,我會繼續做我正在做的事情:服事神並把人帶到祂面前。你有永生的確據嗎?你是否把你的生命投資在持續到永恆的地方呢?

Ken Korkow居住在美國內布拉斯加州的奧馬哈市,他擔任該地的CBMC區域總監。本篇文章改編自他的「生活傳真」專欄。經許可使用。

備註:如果你有聖經並想閱讀更多內容,請參考以下經文(因經文篇幅較長,請查閱未列出的經文馬太福音6章19-21節)

馬太福音6章33-34節
6:33 你們要先求他的國和他的義,這些東西都要加給你們了。
6:34 所以,不要為明天憂慮,因為明天自有明天的憂慮;一天的難處一天當就夠了。
約翰福音15章1-8節
15:1我是真葡萄樹,我父是栽培的人。
15:2凡屬我不結果子的枝子,他就剪去;凡結果子的,他就修理乾淨,使枝子結果子更多。
15:3現在你們因我講給你們的道,已經乾淨了。
15:4你們要常在我裡面,我也常在你們裡面。枝子若不常在葡萄樹上,自己就不能結果子;你們若不常在我裡面,也是這樣。
15:5我是葡萄樹,你們是枝子。常在我裡面的,我也常在他裡面,這人就多結果子;因為離了我,你們就不能做什麼。
15:6人若不常在我裡面,就像枝子丟在外面枯乾,人拾起來,扔在火裡燒了。
15:7你們若常在我裡面,我的話也常在你們裡面,凡你們所願意的,祈求,就給你們成就。
15:8你們多結果子,我父就因此得榮耀,你們也就是我的門徒了。
羅馬書3章23節
3:23 因為世人都犯了罪,虧缺了 神的榮耀;
羅馬書5章8節
5:8 惟有基督在我們還作罪人的時候為我們死, 神的愛就在此向我們顯明了。
以弗所書2章8-10節
2:8 你們得救是本乎恩,也因著信;這並不是出於自己,乃是 神所賜的;
2:9 也不是出於行為,免得有人自誇。
2:10 我們原是他的工作,在基督耶穌裏造成的,為要叫我們行善,就是 神所預備叫我們行的。
腓立比書3章12-14節
3:12 這不是說我已經得著了,已經完全了;我乃是竭力追求,或者可以得著基督耶穌所以得著我的( – 所以得著我的:或譯所要我得的)。
3:13 弟兄們,我不是以為自己已經得著了;我只有一件事,就是忘記背後,努力面前的,
3:14 向著標竿直跑,要得 神在基督耶穌裏從上面召我來得的獎賞。

反省與問題討論

  1. 誰是你已過世最親的人?失去那個人對你有什麽影響呢?
  2. 你是否考慮過自己的死亡,知道它是不可避免也無法逃避的?或者你選擇不考慮這個問題?你最關心的是什麽?請解釋一下你的答案。
  3. 如果你知道自己在世上只能再活兩年,如果有的話,你會做什麽不同的事?
  4. 你是否對永生有確據,知道身體的死亡不會是你最後的「表現」?如果有這樣的確據,你現在從事的是什麽工作,能產生耶穌在馬太福音6章20節所描述的積攢「在天上的財寶」呢?


TAKING AN HONEST LOOK AT MORTALITY

By Ken Korkow

About 18 months ago, I was at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital where military veterans in my area can receive treatment. Being a veteran of the Vietnam War, I was there for a routine checkup. After the physician reviewed my medical report, I asked for and received a copy of it. 

After I went home, I added up the numbers reflected in the report. It showed that by adding up my various disabilities, most related to injuries I suffered in battle, the percentages totaled 260 percent. That means total disability for more than 2.5 people! Two months after my hospital visit, the VA doctors told me I have Parkinson’s Disease, and Agent Orange disease, the result of being exposed to the dangerous chemical contaminant while serving in Vietnam. The Parkinson’s diagnosis did not bother me. I know other people who dealing with it, and for the most part it is manageable.

My Agent Orange response, however, was totally different. I watched one of my Vietnam Marine buddies die from that; I am working with three other men under the same death sentence. It is a terrible way to die. For about half an hour, I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. I can relate to a quote attributed to actor and film director Woody Allen: “I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

But then I reminded myself of the hope – the confident assurance – that I have about life after death, all because of what Jesus Christ did for me: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). In terms of eternity, this life is hardly the blink of an eye.

What about you? The reality is, sooner or later, because of one thing or another, we all are going to die. The human mortality rate is 100 percent. Even if you are a young adult just starting in business or your professional career, this is a reality you will face one day. And if you are older than 40, you are probably already on the downhill side of your physical capabilities. I do not intend to seem morbid, but death is an inescapable fact. We might as well accept it – and prepare for it.

Many people put off thinking the ‘end’ is getting closer and closer with every passing day. They whistle through cemeteries and act as if they will somehow find an escape clause. There are temporal concerns to address – such as having documents prepared stating our last wishes, ranging from how to dispose of our worldly possessions to our burial or cremation desires.

But more important than these is the question: Are you living TODAY with the ETERNITY in mind? After you are gone, what will remain? What legacy will you have left behind? Are you, as Jesus Christ told His followers, determined to “go and bear fruit – fruit that will remain” (John 15:16)?

Do you even have the hope of eternal life? The Bible addresses this as well: “Yet to all who received [Jesus Christ], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…. 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” (John 1:12, 3:16).

If you knew you had only 2 years left on Planet Earth, what would you do? For me, if I knew just two more years left, I would keep doing what I am doing: serving God and pointing others to Him. Do you have the assurance of eternal life? And are you making life investments that will last for eternity?

Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from his “Fax of Life” column. Used with permission.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Who was the closest person to you that has died? What impact did losing that person have on you?
  2. Have you thought much about your own death, knowing that it is inevitable and inescapable? Or is it something you have chosen not to think about? What concerns you most about it? Explain your answer.
  3. What would you do differently – if anything – if you knew you had only two more years to live on Earth?
  4. Do you have assurance of eternal life, that physical death will not be your final “act”? If so, what are you presently engaged in that will result in what Jesus described in Matthew 6:20 as “treasures in heaven”?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Matthew 6:19-21, 33-34; John 15:1-8; Romans 3:23, 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:12-14


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