Yesterday, one of my all-time favorite theologians Eugene Peterson died. As Christianity Today wrote, he completed ‘his long obedience into the same direction’ just as one of his most popular books was titled. Most people know him as the author of the Message Bible. I fell in love with the paraphrase of the Bible as well as his other books. But what I loved him most about was his authentic love of Jesus and how he lived that love out. He was an amazing theologian and teacher yet he taught best with his own life. And so he did also as with his own death. How come?
And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus. (1 Thess. 4:13-14, MSG)
Eugene Peterson and how to live and die in joy
Among Eugene Peterson’s final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ That’s how you face death, folks. It’s not an end for Christ followers, it’s an entrance into God’s arms. When the time for us come to leave this world, it’s really time to go, to get into the better things. We are not to cling to earthly things but embrace heavenly things. This life is only preparation for the better times ahead.
For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. (2 Cor. 5:1-5, MSG)
I’m thankful for Eugene Peterson’s example of how to live and die in joy. With his own words ‘Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience.’ Joy is God’s gift to us in life and in death. We are pilgrims on our way home where our joy will finally be complete. Let’s not settle for less, let’s keep on keeping on so we can all meet at Jesus’ feet.
We thank you for the life and legacy of Eugene Peterson.
Bless his family and all who mourn him.
Enable us all to learn to love Jesus as Eugene did.
Show us how to live and die in joy.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Q4U: What do you think about Eugene Peterson’s last words? Aren’t they wonderful! It gives me a boost to keep going on my way Home.
Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you learn to live and die in joy!