According to Wikipedia, “Rest in peace” is a short epithet or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace for someone who has died. The phrase “dormit in pace” (English: “he sleeps in peace”) was found in the catacombs of the early Christians and indicated that “they died in the peace of the Church, that is, united in Christ. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as “RIP” or “R.I.P.”.
Notice in its origin, the phrase was associated with the church and extended to those who had died “in the peace of the Church, that is, united with Christ.” But today, the expression is commonly extended to anyone who dies. My question is this: “How can someone who did not live in peace, die and rest in peace?” My mother used to always tell us when we were young: “You can’t live crooked and die straight!” In other words, she was telling us that the way we lived our lives would have a direct bearing on our eternal state after death! I don’t mean to be splitting hairs or making much ado about nothing, but I think we have gotten to a point where, in many cases, we are just saying things just to be saying something!
I read a recent Facebook posting by a young man dedicated to a friend who was a gang-banger and was killed in a gang-related shooting. In this post, I read the traditional wish for the deceased to RIP (rest in peace). But the thing that really caught my attention was a picture of the deceased gang-banger in the heavenly clouds wearing angel wings! It’s amazing to me that we have a tendency to “demonize” people while they live and “angelize” them when they die! We tell lies “on them” while they are living and tell lies “for them” when they are dead! Now, I know that no matter what type of life a person lived, we would like to think that they are in “a better place” when they die. But, according to the Bible, that is not always the case. If we are to believe Jesus and the biblical record then we must concede that “all dogs don’t go to Heaven!” No matter how we may wish that all will rest in peace, the truth of the matter is that all will not! Jesus said in the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke that Lazarus was resting in the bosom of Abraham, but of the rich man he said: “And in hell he lifted up his eyes!” Two different fates for two different lives lived.
The best way for the wish for a person to rest in peace when they die to be fulfilled is to introduce them to the Prince of Peace while they yet live! The Bible says that the Lord will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him. It also says that there is no peace for the wicked! How can it be assure that the wish: RIP is fulfilled? Well, the best way is to make sure you rest in peace is to live in peace! There can be no RIP later unless we LIP (Live in <the Peace that God provides> now! How can we live in that peace? We can live in that peace by being reconciled to God through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary’s Cross. We can’t have the peace of God until we have peace with God! When we have that peace, we can have peace in the midst of the storms while we live and can be assured that we will rest in peace when we die!