“Death is an arresting officer that drags us before the judge of the universe”
Yesterday 26 January 2020, the world was greeted with the news of the tragic demise of Kobe Bryant – one of the greatest sportsmen in history at the age of 41. He was involved in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Hillside of Los Angeles. According to reports, eight other people on board lost their lives in the fatal accident, including Kobe’s 13 year old daughter, Gianna. They were on their way to a youth basketball game in which the younger Bryant was supposed to star in. It was reported that the Pilot was trying to turn the aircraft when it smashed into the hills of a Canyon. Also among the dead was a college baseball coach, his wife and their daughter.
Born in Philadelphia, Kobe made his NBA debut in 1996 at the age of 18, becoming the youngest player in NBA history. He went on to win five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers as well as two Olympic gold medals with the United States National Basketball team. He is fourth on the NBA’s All-time scoring list with 33,643 points and was a recipient of two NBA finals MVP awards and one regular-season MVP in 2008. He was indeed an absolute legend of the game and an inspiration to many.
Tragic events such as this, drives one to reflect deeply on the inevitability of death. It serves to remind us that irrespective of whatever status we attain in life, we remain mortals that will eventually bite the dust one day. Death to our mortal bodies is something that we all have in common, regardless of our different social and economic status. Be ye high class, middle class or low class, be ye rich or poor, young or old, nobody knows when or how they are going to die. It comes when you least expect and when it shows up at your door steps, there is nothing you can do.
Having looked at the inevitability of death, let us look for answers to the big questions; what is death and why does it come to us all?
Obviously, death is the absence of life, but why does mankind wither and eventually die. The biblical answer to the question is found in Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death…”. Death as it is laid down here, is a fate that we all have earned. It is the result of our Adamic nature – the consequence of a fallen world, and a sign that God is serious about sin. Oftentimes, we tend to trivialize our sins – we say things like “My sins are not that bad” or “I haven’t killed anyone”, and as such, we do not think that whatever we might have done merits the death sentence, but the reality is that we live in a world that reeks of sin and we are all guilty as charged. Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
Notice the words “the glory of God”, what we fail to realize is that God’s moral standards are not the same as ours, and He doesn’t judge by the standards of men. Even what we might perceive as a little ‘white lie’ is serious in sight of God. The Bible says “lying lips are an abomination to God” (Proverbs 12:22). It takes it even further by saying “all lairs will have their part in the lake of fire” (Revelations 2:18). That is the standard of a God who is holy and morally perfect. Death came into the world after the fall of Adam and even after that, man continued to live in their mortal bodies for long periods, until God went further to eventually shorten the life span of man as a result of the iniquities of the “sons of God”, who took the daughters of men as wives (Genesis 6:1-3). So it has been established that death came into the world as a consequence of sin.
What happens after we die? Spread across different worldviews, different people have different thoughts and beliefs about the afterlife. Atheists say there is none, Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation. Then we have the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, majority of whom believe in heaven and hell. Whatever your worldview is though, Kobe’s death reminds us that life is never guaranteed. It is snatched without warning. It reminds us of the audacity of death and how death is a respecter of no man.
Psalm 90:10 (NIV) – “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty years, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
In other words, life is short and according to the scriptures, after death, comes judgement. “For it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement” – Hebrew 9:27 (KJV). We are also repeatedly told that on judgement day, every man shall give an account of his life on earth (Matthew 12:36, Romans 14:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10). The above Bible verses points out clearly what awaits us after our demise. No none-existence and no reincarnation, it is in this order; death, judgement, heaven or hell.
According to reports, 150,000 people die every 24 hours. That should remind us that tomorrow is not guaranteed and that today is a gift – no wonder it is called “The Present”. Let us all heed the call to get right with our creator before it becomes too late.
This article is dedicated to the memory of the man that made many fall in love with Basketball, the legend, the husband and father; Kobe Bryant (1973 – 2020), as well as the memory of all who lost their lives in the crash, may their souls rest in peace and may God give their families the strength to bear the such great losses. Amen!