While sitting in a Mexican restaurant with my youngest son after worship on Sunday, January 26th, he looked down and saw a note on his phone. He raised his head and said, “Kobe Bryant is dead. Seriously, he died in a helicopter accident.” Over the next few hours, we continued to follow the story. Nine people died in a tragic accident, including the former NBA player and his young daughter.
As a Pastor, I am familiar with the aftermath of a tragedy, as it comes with the job, but this one was different. All my social media feeds have been exploding with articles about the man, tributes to him, and pleas for some way to honor him. This has left me reflecting on this incident and the reason for such a response.
I believe accidents like this do two things. One, they make us face a lie that many of us believe. Somewhere along the way, we have come to believe that if we have enough money and fame, then we are immune to life-threatening issues. With money and fame comes the ability to remove ourselves from the scary things of life. Rich people have better homes in good neighborhoods with premium security. They have the nicest vehicles with the latest safety features. They can afford the best of everything and all the protection it brings. These types of accidents crush the illusion that money and fame are the way out of pain and suffering.
The second thing it does is bring us face to face with our mortality. If bad things can happen to the wealthy and secure, then they could happen to anyone of us. If he can’t keep himself and his family safe, then what hope do we have?
Whenever you mix the grief of loss with the harshness of reality, it is a recipe for confusion. It leaves people searching for meaning, hope, and purpose in the face of death.
This leads me to the reason I am a believer in Jesus. Life has no natural answers for death. It is coming for all of us. It doesn’t matter if you have lots of money or none. It doesn’t care about your social status, possessions, notoriety, or charity work. Make no mistake in thinking that because you are young, athletic, beautiful, or accomplished that you will escape it. Death is coming, and we need to be prepared.
Faith in Jesus is the only adequate way I know to prepare for the end of this life. The essential ingredient of Christianity is that Jesus defeated the grave. He was alive, then died, was buried, and rose on the third day. Paul told the Church at Corinth if you remove the resurrection, the followers of Jesus should be pitied. If there is only hope in this life, then we are wasting our time.
Jesus was not just an excellent teacher who tried to show us a better way to live. He was a savior who died and showed us a way through the grave. Faith in the resurrected Jesus, I believe, is the key to eternity.
The passing of Kobe reminds me that none of us are immune to death, but also the hope that is found in my faith in Jesus. That faith prepares me for any tragedy this life throws at me.