“Mama, Grandma’s eyes are open, but she’s breathing like she’s asleep.”
“Thank you darling.” I dropped what I was doing and hastened to Grandma’s bedroom, where she lay, resting between death and life.
I waved my hand in front of the unresponsive eyes. I put my hand on the unresponsive hand. I listened to the long, labored breathing . . . until it ceased.
I’ve always heard of spiritual death described as “separation.” The argument runs: “Just as physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, so spiritual death is the separation of the spirit from God.” Of course this is strictly true, but maybe when God talks in His Scriptures about spiritual death, maybe He’s primarily talking about unresponsiveness.
I touched her cold hand and felt no responsive movement. I closed the lids over the glassy, unresponsive eyes.
No response to light. No response to touch.
When a young friend of mine became discouraged about the smallness of her love for God, I asked her, “Before you were saved, how much did it bother you that you didn’t love God?”
She laughed. “It didn’t bother me at all. I never even thought about Him.”
You were unresponsive to the love of God in Christ. You were dead. But now, but now, sweet friend, you’ve come alive. You’re responding to the love of God. Take heart that the very fact that you feel concern that your response isn’t what you want it to be, that very fact is evidence that you have been made alive to His love for you.
When ravens go after a dead body, why do they always go for the eyes first? They’re looking for a response. If there’s no response , they’re sure the creature is dead.
Abraham had to trust God to bring a son from his body, because he was “as good as dead.” What is that but lack of his body’s ability to respond? What does it mean to be physically alive, but for our senses and reflexes to be responsive to the stimuli around us?
What does it mean to be fully alive in the spirit, except that we immediately and joyfully respond with all our spiritual senses and reflexes to the stimulus of Jesus Christ?
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it fully and abundantly.”
Fully alive. Fully and completely responsive to Jesus Christ through the power of His Holy Spirit.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were unresponsive to Him in sins, hath caused us to become responsive to Him, together with Christ.
Spiritual death? Unresponsive to God, being drawn unthinkingly, always, in the direction of sin.
Spiritual life? Responsive to God in full awareness and joy; unresponsive to the attractions of sin. Doesn’t that sound like heaven on earth?
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be unresponsive indeed unto sin, but responsive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When my body parts (my “members”) begin to respond to temptation, begin to be pulled in the direction of sin, I can remind myself that I am dead, buried, raised, ascended, and seated with Christ. In faith, desperately dependent, I will stand on the truth of God that I am made new and have the power to refuse to respond to the siren calls of sin. I can trust that He will eventually make true in my experience that one day I will no longer feel any sort of response to that attraction. My spirit—and yes, even my body—can respond in joyful faith to the love of Jesus Christ in me, the Hope of Glory.
Yes, when I sin I’ll repent. But I’ll also remind myself that in the death and resurrection of Christ, I’m free from sin. I don’t have to respond to sin. I don’t have to experience the night of the living dead.
Do you say, “God, make this true in my life”? But if you are in Christ, at least to some extent this is already true in your life. Believe Him, and stand on faith. Trust Him to make it more and more true in your experience.
You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.