Devouring Death.

I was on my way back home from Jilberto’s picking up some burritos for my wife and Henna McCafferty, who was gracious living out “to live is Christ” by loving my  boys with her time and affection as we packed. If you are of the opinion that eating a Jilly’s burritos could be the subject matter of a blog entitled Devouring Death, I wish you the best. You are wrong. On many accounts. And there is likely sin that you must repent of because it is creeping up in your opinions about food. Your opinions do not effect this post, but I digress.

As I drove in the west-bound lane of the 76, just past Harrah’s Casino where many are devoured daily, there were 6 birds (is that  a flock?) in the east-bound lane picking the scrumptiously fresh remains of a deceased little critter. Some were walking around what was left of the once-adorable life, while others worked at its remains like a pit crew on an Indy car. As they were enjoying their busy afternoon a 16 wheeler rumbled towards them, signaling the end of meal time. Five of them flew away as the would-be-killer rolled around the bend, but there was one stubborn bird continuing to peck at the dead flesh as if he feared the resurrection would come before he wiped his mouth. As the truck rocked steadily towards him, wisdom struck quickly and he began to take flight. But his wisdom was partial; he had one last bite in his mouth as he flew…and that last bite must have stretched two feet in the air and would not detach from the road kill (mmmm….intestines….). Wisdom ran its full course and the bird let go as the trucked rumbled past. Last I heard, the dead creature did not resurrect.

As I watched the birds, the truck and the unfortunate critter played this grotesque scene out in front of me, I was struck with the grotesque relationship many people have with sin. James 1:15 says, “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Sin is always related to death because from it death was ultimately birthed. God promised Adam that if he disobeyed and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he would surely…die (Genesis 2:17). In actively participating in this single act of disobedience, Adam “brought death into the world (Romans 5:12).” What I saw in the birds was a flirtation with death. Some of the birds were wise and flew away quickly, but that one bird held on to his treat for dear life. He saw that it was “good to the eye” and “good to eat,” just like Adam and Eve did, and he wanted to hang on to it with every last bit of his will even though he knew, as the critter’s guts clung to both his beak and its host, that if he was hit by that oncoming truck, his buddies would be back to feast on his fresh meat. And sometimes we want to cling to our sin, knowing full well the grave consequences that come along with that decision. Yet we cling to what can kill all for a few moments of temporary, vain and fleeting pleasure.

You may be tempted to say that the birds who flew away quickly were wise, avoiding the storm before it came upon them. I would not call them wise; I would call them shrewd. For what was it they were feasting on? They were but devouring death, eating what could ultimately kill them. Granted, this is what birds do and their bodies are able to withstand the disease that can come along with eating dead animals. But that ruins the illustration! These birds were clinging onto death, only to fly away when the knew for certain they were going to die. But who is to say that once the truck passed, they did not go back to their way “as a dog returns to its vomit (Proverbs 26:21).” Just because they dodged certain death does not mean they were smart enough to cease what would slowly kill them.

I don’t think we realize the depth of the consequences of sin. Sin always breeds death, even if we pass the keys to someone else to drive for us when we are drunk. Sin always breeds death, even if we “say no” to immoral sex only to go on to fantasize about it later. Sin always breeds death, even if we decide to punch a wall instead of a face. To shrewdly dodge a consequence of sin is not repentance; you are just a stubborn sinner. To repent of sin is to realize the death that it has already caused, and to seek God’s mercy in forgiveness and his grace in helping you to keep from going back to that which began to kill you in the first place.

The ultimate question is this: do you value life? Or do you value death? Satan has always been opposed to God, and death is always opposed to life. But life is found in the Gospel through repentance and faith in Christ. Is your heart satisfied devouring death? Or are you longing for something eternal, fulfilling, righteous? Defy death and embrace the feet of Christ in repentance, for He truly is the Fountain of Eternal Life.

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