Sunday, September 21, 2008

Death and the Smell of Jesus (1) - Chris Martin says "This is serious"

This morning I preached at our church (Frontiers Church Exeter) for the first time. I count it a great priviledge and honour to be able to serve the church family in this way. I'll post the notes in parts through the week.

DOWNLOAD MP3: Dave Bish - Death and the Smell of Jesus

There are, apparently, seven signs of aging. But fear not – there are products that can give you younger looking skin! And if you can’t see the signs of aging, it’s not really happening. Rather than being honoured age becomes despised. Because, logically – if we’re not aging we’ll avoid the chief side-effect of age, namely death. Yet for all the products we buy, 6000 people still die every hour. Equivalent to the population of Exeter every 18.5 hours. 12,000 while we meet today.

If we can’t avoid death we try to trivialise it. Bob Shankley famously quipped that football is not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that. In cinema death happens without consequences. We’re entertained as evil henchmen die in Bond films. Death is entertainment and that makes life cheap.

Underlying all these attempts is surely a deep rooted fear of death. We dread the prospect of death and whatever might follow it. Petrified of death we use distraction or self-deception to kid ourselves that it’ll never happen. But, questions about death are always relevant. Every person who ever died has one thing in common: They were alive before it happened.

Magazine Q asked Chris Martin about the line "I know Saint Peter won't call my name" in the title track of Coldplay’s new album "Viva la Vida".
Martin replied: "It's about… ‘You're not on the list’. I was a naughty boy. It's always fascinated me that idea of finishing your life and then being analyzed on it. And this idea runs throughout most religions. That's why people blow up buildings. Because they think they're going to get lots of virgins. I always feel like saying, just join a band (laughs). That is the most frightening thing you could possibly say to somebody. Eternal damnation. I know about this stuff because I studied it. I was into it all. I know it. It's still mildly terrifying to me. And this is serious."
Sticking our head in the sand feels better but we must face the question. If the church can’t be substantial and engage these questions then hope is lost for this world. This is serious: What happens when we die? We’ll face the questions in the Bible, in the book of 2 Corinthians. We’ll return to it in October and November, so let this whet your appetite.
  • It’s a letter by Paul the Christian to a church in the Greek city of Corinth.
  • It’s in The Bible so it’s God speaking to us through the human writer Paul.
  • In the letter we see Paul’s passion for the front door of the church – showing how essential it is for people to hear of Jesus and enter the church – even if it stops him visiting Christian friends.
  • And we see Paul’s passion for the back door of the church – showing how he wants them to remain enjoying Jesus, even at times, 2v12-13, preventing him from going out to speak of Jesus as he searches for news of the Christians.
  • Above all when Paul writes this letter he writes he’s holds up Jesus to show that he is the greatest treasure in all the world.
Whenever the church meets, seeing that Jesus is ultimate is always the point. The whole Bible is about him. He’s obviously the hero. This letter shows us that.


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