It was with sadness that I read about the death of famed atheist Christopher Hitchens who died after a battle with cancer on Thursday December 15th. As a Christian and a very flawed one at that, my “natural” instinct was to muse about how Mr. Hitchens is now face to face with the test of his theory of atheism. However I find myself praying for him and what he actually did with his waning days than anything else.
Not many people are given an opportunity by God to basically know for some time that they are about to die before the actual moment of death. For most, death comes unexpectedly i.e. accidents, violence etc. rather than via protracted illness the latter stages of which are spent in Hospice care. According to the Bible, for those who die with minimal or little warning, a life lived apart from accepting salvation through Christ is followed in rapid fashion by death and then judgment from God on that life: …as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27 NIV).
Later in his life, Christopher Hitchens did not come across to me as an arrogant God-bashing atheist. Instead, he appeared to be an intellectually prideful, but thoughtful, God-bashing atheist – and that is meant as a relative compliment (as atheists go). My prayer however is that as God “sat him down” as it were, this gift of thoughtfulness when faced with the naked reality of death, unencumbered by having to keep up appearances for the unbelieving world, would have caused him to turn that intellectual capacity towards an honest evaluation of the offer presented by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, God does not appear to give most unsaved sinners this option. It is a loving God’s final act of mercy to one who has rejected him entirely in life. The Bible does indeed state, …the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV) The Lord absolutely wanted Christopher Hitchens to come to repentance. I pray that he did during the quiet time afforded to him by God’s mercy. It is interesting to note that the pure and absolute truth that is the Bible follows the merciful scripture listed previously with this next one: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. (2 Peter 3:10) The unexpected day of the Lord for virtually all human beings is death…the end of their natural life. Mr. Hitchens experienced the truth of that scripture yesterday. People may demean the Bible consistently, however this scripture is pure truth that is irrefutable. Death is appointed to all. No disbelief in God can change that reality.
This issue ultimately comes down to the question: is it better to live for Christ and find out when you die that you were wrong or to live against Christ and find out when you die that you were wrong? Is it worse to be considered a fool by man in this life or a fool by God in the next one?
It is ironic that on this day as I was contemplating the eventual outcome of Christopher Hitchens’ life, I was greeted with the following daily devotional from the Love Worth Finding Ministry in my email inbox:
Just Passing Through
BIBLE MEDITATION: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: The only thing that is going to last are the things of God. Period. The world is passing away. Our days are fleeting. One day we will all be gone from this earth as we know it. You see, we’re not citizens of earth trying to get to heaven. We are citizens of heaven sojourning here on earth. This earth is not our home. Are you living for the pleasures of the flesh? Or for the joy of the Spirit? Are you living for the praise of men? Or for the glory of God? Are you living for time? Or are you living for eternity? Are you living for the things that can be seen? Or for the things that cannot be seen? One of these days, this old world and all of its vaulted culture, proud philosophies, egocentric intellectualism, and godless materialism is going to be forgotten. But he that “doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
ACTION POINT: Take stock: What are you really living for?