Should We Try to Live Forever?

Bible & Culture

by on ; last featured August 21, 2018
Audio Version

The media bombards us daily with messages about becoming younger and cheating death. Blogs and news magazines tout new miracle cures, and diet ads promise a youthful figure and more energy. Some key thinkers actually predict that we can defeat aging and death. One of these is inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who takes over 150 nutrition supplements every day and believes that physical immortality may be possible within the next 20 years. If Kurzweil is right, would it really be a good thing to stop the aging process?

It’s obvious that something is terribly wrong about our earthly existence. We long for freedom, transcendence, and wholeness, but we look around and see everywhere the evidence of a curse. As Romans 8:22 tells us, “The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs,” waiting for relief from its bondage to sin and corruption. Continuation of our mere physical existence would not solve this basic problem.

Christians, who look forward to relief from sin and corruption, can take comfort that in this life even our infirmities shape our character. A Christian friend of mine likes to point out that weakness as we grow older is a blessing. As our bodies decline and we become more forgetful, as our vision darkens and our vitality wanes, we become more and more dependent on God. In a very real sense, we are rehearsing to be eternally at rest with Him.

Godly wisdom lies buried within Moses’ prayer, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). By recognizing that our days are limited, we can strive for true humility and develop a heart for service. After all, isn’t that why God put us on this earth? True believers know heaven will be much greater than continued earthly existence. Rather than clinging to this life, we should make the most of our opportunities to serve God and reach others with the gospel.

So believers should embrace our limited lifespans and rejoice in our finitude. Each one of our lives, regardless of its length, has deep purpose and meaning. And ultimately, we will experience a sweet victory that is greater by far than any earthly, physical existence: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruptible, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:52–53).

Christians can be truly grateful for our mortality: as the next verse in this passage tells us, all of the wrong of our existence, all of the pain of this world, and all of the sting of death will be “swallowed up in victory” (15:54).

Dr. Dennis Sullivan, a former practicing surgeon and medical missionary, is professor of pharmacy practice at Cedarville University. He teaches clinical ethics and directs the university’s Center for Bioethics.

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October–December 2016

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