Trigger warning: this post may cause you to think about your eternity, I pray.
Some of my neighbors have flagpoles by which they duly respect our nation’s flag, following the full-mast and half-mast schedule. I have begun to notice its station and will often look up the reason for its position when I am unsure. Anecdotally, the flag seems to be at half-mast more often than before. Maybe I am paying more attention, maybe tragedies have increased, maybe they are being ordered by the President / Governor more often. But a quick Google search proves there has indeed been an increase.
For instance, in Wisconsin, “the flag has flown half-mast 31 days and counting, since the start of the year, 2021. That means the nation or state has been mourning one of every four days…”* Anecdotally and statistically, we are a nation frequently in grief and mourning these days. This simple station of the flag serves to remind us. Dignitaries have passed away. Tragedies and mass murders have sadly increased. Coming out of a global pandemic, we are freshly aware of the loss of many lives.
As Covid 19 moved across the globe in 2020, a wide-spread fear came along with it: fear of the known, fear of the unknown, fear of losing a loved one, and fear of losing our own life.
But for as much fear as this pandemic has generated, there is a greater pandemic facing the human race and many seem completely unafraid of it. It is the curse of sin and eternal death in hell which the Bible speaks of extensively.
In the Bible we see…
“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.“
“The wages of sin is death…“
We learn from these simple and strong verses that all humans have sinned and that the earnings, or paycheck, for sin is death (which is further explained in scripture as eternal death and separation from God’s glory in a place Jesus speaks of as hell). When we sin, we break God’s commands. The ten commandments are a foundational place to see and understand how we each have broken God’s laws. (Exodus 20). Furthermore Galatians 5:20,21 lists pervasive sins among humanity:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”Galatians 5:20-21
So this is grim. Since all have sinned, the paycheck or wages for sin is eternal death. But there is a way of escape. There is HOPE through faith in Jesus Christ.
God calls us to come out of sin by turning away from it (repenting) and putting our faith in his Son, Jesus. If and when we do this, Christ’s blood (from his death on the cross) cleanses us and makes us pure, setting us free from the gravest sickness known to man: the pandemic of sin. This sickness is the gravest because it is an eternal unchanging death–unless we turn to Jesus for salvation.
I realize I am writing mostly to an audience of Christian women. So let me first ask, do we understand these foundational truths?
And do we believe them?
Do we share them, or do we hide them under a bush?
Do we regretfully make apologies for them?
The truth is not a collection of subjective ideas, it is the foundation upon which our faith has been built and it is established in the heavens.
It was the truth long before any of us were born and it will stand the test of time, cultures, governments, and ideologies. The plan for salvation and Christian living is not the idea of man, it is the very breath of God. It is unchanging and should not be parsed or detracted from. Can we hold to these truths? Do we believe them enough to suffer for them? If we do not, can we ask God to increase our faith and courage to hold fast and believe them?
And to any who are reading who are not of our intended audience, please consider this a plea for you to hear and understand the whole story of the Gospel. Perhaps you have been offered the benefits and blessings of Christianity, but this greatest benefit of eternal salvation from eternal death in hell has been omitted. It will likely be a trigger for many to talk or even think about, but Jesus Christ offers salvation from eternal death and hell. It is a great salvation! And it is still being offered today.
You may despise this message, as many people I encounter today do. But won’t you consider it, devoid of emotion? Won’t you let yourself consider if it is true?
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The death rate of the pandemic of sin is 100%. Do you know anyone who has been able to escape it? Has any human broken the glass ceiling on death?
Physical death has come or will come to us all…all but One. Jesus Christ, the son of God, set aside his God-ness over 2,000 years ago when he was born into human form. He lived a life without sin. He died as a complete and perfect innocent, though he was condemned by mankind. His death paid the penalty for sin when he was crucified on the cross. Incredibly, He conquered death, the great enemy, when he rose from the dead. He lives today and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
And He’s coming again to gather those who call Him their Lord and hold fast to His truth.
Perhaps we should be hoisting our flags half-mast every day because we face a grave enemy called death every day. Dignitaries and people of tribute are not the only ones who pass on. Commemorating their lives is a respectful formality, but like many things we do to help with grief, nothing can circumvent the cause of our physical deaths, except being born again into new life in Christ.
Eternal life is being offered. This is a reason to hope and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. His is a great and real salvation!
*Appleton Post-Crescent April 23, 2021
“A lot of mourning: U.S., state flags fly at half-staff one quarter of the time thus far in 2021”