The Ancient Greek culture toyed with the idea of immortality in all its shapes. It was believed that the immortals had seemingly legendary and infinite powers. They lived forever. They were still vulnerable though, for they could be wounded in battle. Interestingly they could not die. It is believed that they lived in golden palaces and rode golden chariots which were drawn by strange creatures. These immortals were primordial deities, gods and goddesses. Greek mythology placed them in a hierarchy of Chaos, The First Immortals, The Titans and the Olympians.
The Persians were not to be left behind. They also entertained the idea of imperishability. This was well known to the First Persian Empire that was founded by Cyrus the Great. Biblical scholars believe that he is the same Cyrus mentioned in the books of Isaiah, Ezra and Daniel.
The elite army of the Persians was named the ‘immortals’ by Herodotus, a historian, writer and geographer. Unlike the Greek immortals in Greek mythologies, the Persian immortals in Herodotus tales were plastic for they could not perpetually cheat death.
It is evident that humans have for long been infatuated with the idea of longevity.
It is the count in the years and not the years in count that matters
Malcolm Muggeridge was one of the most prominent British journalists and a social critic of his time. For the most part of his life, Muggeridge practised atheism before changing to theism in his later years. He wrote many books and is well remembered for a ‘Third Testament’ of 1979. The book explored the lives Augustine of Hippo, Blaise Pascal, William Blake, Søren Kierkegaard, Leo Tolstoy and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When addressing the ephemerality of life, Muggeridge once said, “For us humans, everything is permanent – until it changes, as we are immortal until we die.”
Muggeridge was reminding us that there is no permanency here on earth. The happenings of daily life tend to fill our lives to the extent that we forget we are mortals and that our shelf-life here on earth is limited. The passing on of our beloved ones is always a reminder of how temporary life is. For example, the month of September saw the passing on of one of the promising Christian evangelist and an apologist Nabeel Qureshi. Qureshi had dedicated his life to reaching out to Muslim brothers and sisters with the message of the Cross. The fact that he died at the age of 34 is quite traumatizing in human terms. We should at all times remember that life does not consist of how long we live but what we do with it. According to the Bible, Methuselah lived 31 years short of a millennium (Genesis 5:27). Nothing much is said about his achievements in life. Contrast this with Jesus. He only lived for 33 years. Whatever he accomplished in this short time is enduring. We can also take an example of David. The Bible does not explicitly tell us how long he lived but we can deduce that he may have never reached a century old. Despite this, David’s exploits are vivid.
The Book of Jeremiah 1:5 unmistakably shows that God knew us before we were formed. He appointed us for a definite assignment that we should fulfil before we call it quits. This reality weighs heavy on me as I have to ask myself, ‘Am I doing what God created me to do?’ Are we fulfilling the plan and purpose of God or are we moving to and fro like the ghost in Barbara Kimenye’s Moses series.
As I brood over these matters I remember a nursery school song that we used to sing heartily. It went like this:
All things shall perish from under the sky.
Music alone shall live,
Music alone shall live,
Music alone shall live,
Never to die.
Contrariwise we shall live too. Yeah, everything will pass, including the hard times, we go through in life, the pain and suffering. This too shall pass. And after everything has passed, we shall never see the corruption of the body again. It makes no point to wreck ourselves with anxieties of the ominous present and the bleak tomorrow. I have seen uncertain times pass, chaotic seasons end and victory and joy ushered in.
We need to live our lives with eternity mentality. This alleviates most of the rough-edged thoughts, words and actions that stick to our lives like leeches. It jolts us into a position where we can take Kingdom business seriously. I personally learnt this one month ago when I came face to face with probable death.
What the Scriptures say
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
All Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.