I still remember the cold and indifferent eyes of the two young men who just walked past me. Maleek* was just shot seventeen times in front of our house. A crowd had gathered as we waited for the cops to give another scoop and run. The shots ringing out, the blood-stained shirt, the lifeless body. That all hit me, but nothing like the cold indifference in those two guys eyes. They walked past me, past a motionless Maleek, and past a growing crowd without a hint of compassion or care.
Death, or the mere presence of it, should strike a level of fear within us. I saw no fear in their eyes. No remorse. No sadness. No hopelessness. Just cold indifference. Another guy their age was just shot down in the street and they were walking by without a care directed toward the hysterical crowd only a few feet away. It disturbed me then and continues to haunt me today.
We should respond to death. It should move us. It should break us, wound us, and by God’s grace shape us. This is what Matthew McCullough argues for in Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope. Considering and calling to mind death should lead us to Jesus Christ the Living Hope.
Death is a constant reminder of who we truly are. It reminds us that we are not too important to die. That’s probably why we are constantly waging war against it. We seek to suppress the knowledge and reality of death. We long to live life devoid of the constant remembrance that one day we will all die. And of course, we have no idea what that day will be.
McCullogh calls us to consider death. To think about it. To remember it. To ponder it. And his argument is that our pending death should drive us to the Giver of Life. Our consideration of death should drive us to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember Death is a helpful and necessary reminder for all of us to slow down and to reflect upon the words of the psalmist:
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. (Psalm 103:15–18)
*not his real name.