The headline on Tuesday morning was "Life expectancy rises 'grinding to halt' in England" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40608256). Apparently the rising rates of life expectancy of the last 100 years are grinding to a halt.
University College London expert Sir Michael Marmot said he was "deeply concerned" by the situation, calling it "historically highly unusual". Though some are putting this down to austerity, there are others who believe that the humans might actually have a terminal age beyond which the body won't last. We can't seem to decide whether we should live forever or whether we have a best before date.
The Bible is clear that both are true. That as people created in the image of God we are made to enjoy eternal life. That death is not natural, but the result of our rejection of the giver of life. That the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). It's natural to long for an ever increasing life expectancy.
At the same time we are in bondage to decay. Along with the rest of creation we have a sell by date because we wear out. In fact God has limited the length of human life to constrain the time that we have to wreck the world. The Lord says in Genesis 6:3:
‘My Spirit will not contend with humans for ever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’
Science isn't too far out. The article said that the limit to human life may be 115 ish!
What I am certain about is that I wouldn't want to live forever in the world as we know it. An eternity of witnessing suffering and pain. And experiencing it. Day after day of joy being mingled with regret. Of peace being tainted by anger. Even today's news headlines make me think that anyone with believes that time passing leads to life improving has their head in the clouds, what with a massive increase in reported sexual assault on trains and an 18% rise in violent crime in England and Wales. If I'm going to live forever I want it to be somewhere else.
There was a huge contrast between the article declaring people's fear about a decline in the rise of life expectancy and my time spent with the Sage family. I've only known Brian and June for a year. Sadly it's been a year during which Brian's health has steadily and then rapidly declined.
By today's standards he wasn't very old at 84. Many people would think that his main desire would be to cling to life, and his families desire would be to cling to him. But because of the hope they share in Christ that wasn't the case. Brian simply wanted to go home. And because his wife and family love him, they wanted him to go home too. Not to their bungalow in Fetcham. In God's kindness he was already there. But home to be with the Lord Jesus in paradise. To wait for the day when he would be raised to a perfect new life with all who trust in Christ. A life forever in this world renewed. A life without sin or suffering or death. A life solely consisting of joy and peace and love.
I want to live forever. Not in this world as we know it. But rather in this world made perfect. And because Jesus has died and risen for me, I know that will be my home forever.
Do you know that too?