As believers, we spend a lot of time talking about eternal life. About living forever. About heaven. It’s part of our “sales pitch” when we’re talking about our faith with non-believers.
But do we know what it is?
Is it to live forever – to never die? Probably not. Certainly not for most.
Is it to be resurrected after death? Well, sure…
I think that Jesus probably said it best:
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: For you granted him [Jesus, the son of man, the son of God] authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. [emphasis added]
To know God, the one true God, and Jesus, the one he sent. It’s so simple!
For all of our theological debates and efforts to get everything right or to be a good person. For all our failures and pride. Our laziness, self-consciousness, inhibition. Our unwillingness to accept the simplicity of the Gospel. It’s simply simple. (not easy…simple)
Eternal life is knowing God.
And if that is the case, then we can begin living our eternal lives now. Even though the bodies we live in now will pass away, we can begin experiencing (knowing) God. We can choose to follow him. We can accept the Holy Eucharist – the breaking of Jesus’ body for the healing of ours, the death of God to bring us life. We can receive his life right here, right now.
This life is more than just principles – though there are principles. It’s more than following rules. This freedom is not license to do whatever we want – rather to choose life (and the things that bring life) over death (and the things that lead to death).
I certainly have many things for which I am thankful in this season – a house, a car, running water, an iMac, friends, family, and a church. But FAR beyond all of that, thank God that in spite of all my wanderings, my failings, my intentional sins, my covetousness and pride, he still wants a relationship with me. He still pursues me. He still forgives me and calls me to live a life above myself.
He continues to call me to eternal life. And he calls you, too.
Make the choice to know him. Obey his commands. Experience true freedom.