A three-year-old boy in a stroller was the victim of an acid attack in England last Saturday. The child suffered serious burns to his arms and face when a corrosive liquid was thrown or sprayed on him. Five men have been arrested in connection with the crime.
The boy was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, but police said his long-term prognosis is not known. Authorities believe the child was targeted as part of a wider community dispute. He and his mother have been placed under police protection.
In other news, Pepperidge Farms has recalled three million units of its Goldfish Crackers because of fears they could contain salmonella. The products were distributed in the US; no illnesses have been reported.
The same cannot be said of McDonald’s. A parasite in their salads has turned up across nine states, sickening 163 people and hospitalizing three. You may already be infected–it usually takes about a week after the infection for symptoms to occur.
Meanwhile, Ritz is recalling Ritz Bits and cracker sandwiches over fears of potential salmonella contamination. And we were warned this month not to eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks after the cereal was linked to a salmonella outbreak spanning thirty-three states.
Enslaved to the devil?
Can you think of any place on our fallen planet that is truly safe? As of this morning, wildfires in Greece have killed at least seventy-nine people. Flooding today could impact more than thirty million people from North Carolina to central New York.
A bombing in Pakistan left thirty-one people dead this morning. There have been more than two hundred shootings in Toronto so far this year. Salads, crackers, and cereal can sicken us. Every day brings new reminders of our mortality.
There’s a nefarious strategy at work here.
Hebrews 2 tells us that Jesus chose to die for us so that “he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (vv. 14-15).
“Slavery” translates a word meaning “bondage.” It describes a person who is the possession of someone else with no possibility of freedom.
From this text we learn a crucial fact: the fear of death enslaves us to the devil. Why is this so?
The only antidote to the fear of death
We fear the suffering often associated with death as well as the pain of leaving those we love and the impact of our death on them. But especially, we fear the finality of death.
This fear is understandable. So far as we can know through personal observation and reason, life ends at death. As Woody Allen says, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering–and it’s all over much too soon.”
The only antidote to the fear of death is the knowledge of eternal life in Christ. Through Jesus, the one who defeated the devil, we can be set free from this fear and its diabolical master.
If we don’t believe this, we fear death because it’s the end of life. Then we live our lives as though there is no God and nothing beyond this world.
“Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”
Quoting his fallen culture, Paul wrote: “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'” (1 Corinthians 15:32). We can see why lost people act like lost people. Those who fear death but not God live like there’s no tomorrow.
Such a lifestyle enslaves us to the devil and his depravities. Disregarding their eternal consequences, we choose the “works of the flesh” such as “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21).
But if we know that we have eternal life in Christ, not only are we free from the fear of death, we live as people who will live forever. We make decisions based not only on their results in this life but especially on their consequences in the next.
One day we will be eternally grateful we did.
How to live for eternity
The Bible tells us that God “will render to each one according to his works” (Romans 2:6). His judgment will “test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Corinthians 3:13).
None of us are exempt: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
If we choose disobedience over faithfulness, we can confess our sins and be forgiven for them (1 John 1:9), but we cannot recapture the lost opportunity for obedience or gain the reward we forfeited.
However, if we live for eternity, we will pay any price to serve Jesus, knowing that the worst that can happen to us leads immediately to the best that can happen to us. We will value people more than possessions, obedience more than pleasure, and integrity more than popularity.
What choices would you make today if you knew they would matter forever?