“Like the cartoon bird, we never know when our day will come, so we laugh it off. But whether by TNT or simply old age, sooner or later we’re all going to be strumming that golden harp. Every year in the United States, two and a half million people leave here for the hereafter, and it’s not free. Death isn’t just a certainty, it’s an industry. Tonight…everything you didn’t know about the business of death.”
With these words, CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen introduced the hour-long television special which aired on January 31, 2013 titled Death: It’s a Living. Sometimes somber, sometimes comical, Mathisen took viewers inside the death care industry to explore the practical reality that some folks make a living out of other people dying.
My oldest son works in the death care industry, and he, with most of his associates, thought the program presented a balanced and respectful look at what they do for a living. I watched the program and was entertained and informed, but I was also reminded again of that harsh reality we must all face – we are all going to die, or as Mathisen put it:
…sooner or later we’re all going to be strumming that golden harp.
Death and the life hereafter seems to be a hot topic in the book selling industry lately. A slew of books have been published in the past 5 years with only slight variations on the theme “I died, saw the life hereafter, I came back, and here’s my story.” I’m very skeptical of most of these stories, and it is certainly NOT because I don’t believe in life after death. It just surprises me that anyone who claims to have experienced the glorious, joyful bliss of heaven would even worry about turning a profit from their story after returning, briefly, to this life. Maybe I judge too quickly because I’ve not read all the books, I’ve not looked into what these folks do with their profits, and I’ve not personally spoken to those who claim to have had these experiences. Come to think of it, if I’m ok with people making a profit in the death care industry, why would I have a problem with someone profiting from the life-after-death care industry?
With all that aside, it is good to consider one’s fate when this life is over. And there is one authority about the topic to whom we should all listen. Jesus Christ suffered a horrible death and, as He predicted, rose from the dead and appeared to hundreds of people, many of whom died their own martyrs’ deaths because of their belief in His resurrection. Jesus is THE authority on life after death! And because He conquered death – never to die again – that makes Him the authority EVERYTHING. His resurrection validates His teachings and also validates Him as the rightful ruler of the cosmos.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11 ESV)
So the next time you hear someone speaking authoritatively on matters of this life and/or death, consider whether this person is speaking on his own limited experience and authority or whether his words line up with the teachings of the Master. If not, reject those words and seek the knowledge and salvation of Jesus, the Lord of Life! You will reap a profit that is out of this world!