Our concepts and realities rarely are the same. Commonly, when we discuss concepts, we discuss "abstract thoughts." When we discuss reality, we discuss "facts."

The concept and reality regarding "good marriage" are quite different. The focus of the concept is ideal husband and wife behavior, behavior that rarely exists. The focus of reality is on "keeping it together" to avoid divorce, the "real" concern of the majority.

The concept and reality of a "good job" are quite different. The concept focuses on a job with excellent pay, reasonable responsibilities, wonderful benefits, generous time off, and no life controlling demands. The focus of reality is on earning enough to support our lifestyle regardless of hours worked or responsibilities assumed.

Nowhere is the gulf between concept and reality as wide as in our view of eternity. Physical life is real. Right now is real. Physical circumstances are real. Physical needs are real. Caring for our physical future is real. Discussing the physical (life, now, needs, or the future) is discussing the "factual."

The eternal is conceptual. Death is not "real." Life after death is not "real." Death will become reality in the distant future--if that ever comes.

In an instant, death occurs, our life "turns upside down," and our awareness of reality totally changes. Instantly death is permanent and physical life is temporary. Death is real and "now" is meaningless. Death is definite and physical needs are insignificant. Death terminates physical futures forever. The person is gone; only the body remains-- temporarily.

Years ago a good friend and I lost a mutual friend to death. The friend who died had been a part of our lives for many years. To us, the world had changed. The next morning my friend drove slowly through town. He called me and said, "Nothing changed. Today is like every other day." He profoundly realized his own insignificance. We all think, "The world can't continue without me," but it does.

Everything "real" while I am physical is not eternal. Eternity begins the moment I cease to be physical. Satan deceives us about the "important" in life. Death is brutally honest about the eternal.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 February 1999

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