Stop Thinking About Eternal Life

When I hear people talk about eternal life, it puzzles me.  They talk with a far-off look in their eye.  The same kind of longing that Lions fans used to have.  They act all nostalgic.  “Just you wait.  It’s gonna be super!”  What a bunch of maroons!

Jesus came that we might have life, but that wasn’t a distant promise.  Eternal life doesn’t start when your soul leaves earth, it starts when you leave the world behind. Jesus didn’t say “you will begin eternal life when you die” – he said “he who believes has everlasting life” (Jn 6:47)  When Jesus talked about us giving up our life so that we might gain eternal life, he wasn’t talking about us physically dying.  That would have lead to Jonestown-like massacres everywhere Jesus went.  The ending of life he talked about involved forgetting what lies behind (Phil 3:13) and becoming a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)

The first 12 that Jesus picked exemplified this leaving of life.  They left what they had been doing to follow Jesus.  They left things that were good for things of God.  These people ended their lives as they knew them, believed Jesus, and began their new lives – lives that could not be taken from them.  So, if you are a Christian, stop dreaming of the eternal life you will experience some day.  You’re already in it!

The life Jesus spoke of was not physical life, just as the kingdom he spoke of was not a physical kingdom.  Eternal life in God’s kingdom involves the last being first, and the first being last.  It involves dying to self.  It means what pleases God also pleases you, and the things that break Jesus’ heart also break ours.  It means having the mind of Christ, so his priorities are our priorities.  It means that we will stop looking at prayer as an incantation to receive God’s blessing, and see it as a way to connect to God’s heart and reshape ours.

Sure, life in heaven will be different than life here.  And that is something we can look forward to.  But Jesus didn’t come and die so you could look forward to heaven.  He did it so that you could change the world through him.  So, stop thinking about eternal life – and start living it!