It’s been all over the news.

Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, together with his daughter Gianna and seven others died untimely deaths in a helicopter crash last Sunday. The outpouring of emotion and the tributes to those who died have been very moving.

When I heard the news, I couldn’t help but think about the spiritual condition of those who died. Was Kobe Bryant a follower of Jesus? I do not know the answer to that question. There have been some credible reports that he was working very hard to turn his life around after some serious moral failings earlier in his life–that he had dedicated himself anew to his wife and his family. Good for him! I even heard one unsubstantiated report that he had attended worship in a Christian church before boarding that helicopter.

Yet I pose the question not so much because I am seeking a specific answer about this specific person. I pose the question because the untimely death of someone so prominent gives all of us pause to consider ultimate things. The question was equally important for everyone on that flight. In fact, the most important question that can be asked about anyone is whether they are a follower of Jesus. The answer has eternal implications!

In the church, we deal with ultimate things. We care about the answer to questions like these, regardless of the fame, or lack thereof, of every single person. Following Jesus means grace and light and life! We pray–and we work so that others will pray: “(Lord,) help us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV).

By Rev. Dr. Jon Braunersreuther
Mission & Ministry Facilitator Area D