We are all going to die. Eventually. That’s a simple fact of life – death and taxes are coming for you. Nothing reminds us of our mortality more clearly than the popular (over 6 million downloads and counting) Japanese mobile game Survive! Mola mola (Apple, Android).
If you haven’t played it before, Survive! Mola mola! is a game about the ocean sunfish, aka mola mola. In the game, you play the role of a random newly hatched ocean sunfish and you try not to die. That’s the game – don’t die. The game has touch and click controls and you try to survive. You feed the fish varying things, unlocking new and larger things to eat as you progress. You go on “adventures,” which are basically different things the mola mola will do in its life. These include encountering fishermen, swim deeper to try to find more food to eat, and trying to shake off parasites. Yet, in the end – death is always imminent. From the time you are in the egg to the time you get out, death is around every corner. Some mola mola do not survive as eggs – each adult female will lay 300,000,000 eggs at a given time. Some mola mola will choke on shrimp shells. Some will run into rocks, not moving out of the way in time. Death is everywhere and the more you learn about the mola mola’s lifespan, the more you see of death.
After you die in the game, you restart as a new fish. This one stronger and healthier than the one before. Less likely to die from the way in which the previous mola mola died, but still readily prone to death. Death is still everywhere, you are just smarter and stronger than the previous fish. Make no mistake – you will still die.
As a human, death is still around every single corner. There are potential muggers. There are diseases. The very air we breath is slowly killing our bodies – as oxygen heavily oxidizes every part of our being weakening it. Cancer is all but certain if you live long enough. Death is imminent and unavoidable. So, what in the world is the point? We’re all going to die, so what are we supposed to do and why are we supposed to do it? Should we fear death?
In the case of the mola mola, the fish doesn’t want to die and obviously tries to avoid it. Sometimes, however, death just happens. They don’t want it to happen, but it does. Sometimes the sight of death causes the mola mola to die. Do they fear it? If they truly feared death would they continue to eat all the things which may eventually kill them? Would they ride head first into human nets because the food looks so delicious? Would they keep diving into the deep knowing it could kill them due to the pressure differences or cold? While they are animals and may not have the same senses we as humans do, they accept a certian level of risk of death knowing that there are still needs which must be met.
In the case of humans we need to ask ourselves – what do we fear? Is death among those things? For many, death is a top fear. They are afraid of the many things which can destroy our frail, human bodies. And let’s be clear – there are a lot of things that can kill us. From falling down a flight of stairs, to a car accident, to a piano falling on your head. Death is all around us as it is with the mola mola, but like the fish we also accept a certain level of risk in life knowing we too have needs which must be met. But, unlike the fish, the fear still can become controlling. It can prevent us from applying to certain jobs. It can prevent us from going on adventures with friends. It can also prevent us from reaching out in faith for missions.
The unknown can be scary, but it’s everywhere. If we lived in bubbles ignoring the unknown forever to avoid death – we’d live as they did in the Dark Ages in Europe. There was no advancement of technology, only spread of disease, pestilence, ignorance, and sorrow.
As a Christian, I should not fear death? Why? Let’s ask the Apostle Paul tell you. In Philippians 1:21-26, Paul tells us about two choices – continuing to live or to die. The choice was not one based out of fear, in Paul’s mind. Dying, to him, was better than living. Why? When we die, we are with Christ. But, he prefers to live now as he can do good work here on Earth spreading the Gospel of Christ. There was no need for him to fear death as he knew his salvation in Christ Jesus was secured. Therefore, what did he have to fear? This knowledge allowed him to live boldly, not fearing death despite its inevitability.
For the Christian, death isn’t so much a thing to fear – but a chance to return home. A chance to be with our maker. The mola mola does not have such hope, but still lives boldly. We should learn to do the same.
Yes, death is around every corner potentially ending this life that we know. Yet, as a Christian I find hope in the faith that this is not the end for me; my story continues in death in Christ.