Then, I come to our faith. What is our faith concerning death? It can again be described in simple sentences, but behind each one lies a wealth of experience and vision. In Christian doctrine, death is first of all called the “sting of sin.” It is not just an elementary answer about biological or physical death. In Christian vocabulary death means separation from God as a result of sin – a kind of ontological catastrophe that has made creation, or rather man’s life, into what it was not when God created it. Thus death carries the sting of sin. As separation from God, death – not physical, not physiological death, but death as sin and separation – has been abolished by Christ’s death. Therefore the dead – those who sleep – are alive in Christ.
(Fr. Alexander Schmemann, The Liturgy of Death, p. 145)
For the human, separation from God is the definition of death. Christ’s death has changed everything – for even in death we are not separated from Christ our God. There is no place we can go where we will be separated from Christ. As it says in Psalm 139:8 –
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
He descended to the place of the dead, filling all things with Himself. In death we are with Christ who triumphed over death and its separation from God. Christ is Lord of the dead as well as the living for all are alive in Him.
If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:8-9)