What Really Happens When We Die?

Bruce EpperlyBy Bruce Epperly

My vision of the afterlife is inspired by these words: "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." I believe that the God who loved us at our conception will continue to love us -- all of us -- at the moment of our deaths. God never gives up on anyone in this life or the next, and will continue to inspire us on a holy adventure beyond the grave. In the afterlife we will continue to grow in wisdom and love. Our earthly personality is not lost, but grows in a realm in which the obstructions to experiencing God and one another in a healing way are overcome. We will be transformed; we will forgive and be forgiven; we will love more deeply in a never-ending adventure of companionship with God. 

While I look forward to life everlasting, I am in no hurry, because God is fully present in this lifetime, inspiring us to make this world as "heavenly" as possible. I am not sure "heaven" is better than earth, just different. When we truly open our eyes to God's presence, we discover that this world is holy and that Christ is always with us as our guide and inspiration. In fact, our actions in this life shape the afterlife, both ours and that of others; we create our future in this life and the next by what we do today.

But, still grace abounds. Surrounded by God's love, in the afterlife, we always get more than we deserve -- God's everlasting love.

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Bruce Epperly is Professor of Practical Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary and co-pastor of Disciples United Community Churchin Lancaster, PA.

9/20/2010 4:00:00 AM
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