The first thought when hearing “eternal life” tends to be “life after death”, but either believers are right and all live eternally or atheists are correct and there is nothing after death (in which case also nothing to worry about since you will no longer be aware).
Examined logically “eternal life” (as expressed in Biblical texts etc.) denotes something more than survival because it is partaken by some and not others. It seems to be speaking rather of quality of life – living rather than existing. As Braveheart so aptly states, “All men die, but not all men truly live!” There’s a difference between eternal life and eternal survival. Eternal survival in an environment in which you felt trapped, fearful, or alone would be the worst kind of hell!
So what is meant by “eternal life”? John clarifies “This is eternal life, that they may know … the only true God, and Jesus Christ…” We are told Jesus came that we might “have life and have it more abundantly” an enriched life, beginning not at death but the moment we come to truly know him in a personal and intimate way, a life enriched by the power and joy of his spirit, possessed not at death but right now in our present life and that to come.
What a great idea I thought. Wood carving would be a just the thing to indulge my creative leanings. Having fours years of study and a BA in sculpture under my belt I figured I could easily adapt.
Boy was I wrong! I’d mostly used clay, plaster etc. any past wood creations being the result of industrial power tools. The only thing I’d carved by hand was plaster of paris.
I soon discovered my mistake, not only was it hard work, but it just didn’t “flow”. The first simple relief came out well, only to be followed by three half finished free standing carvings. I finally got the point. I wasn’t learning about wood, how it grew, how “IT” flowed. I was merely trying to stamp an image on it. Wood is a living thing, to carve it you must know it intimately.
I pondered, isn’t life like that? We try to put our stamp upon it, shape it to our desire but we find forces working against us. We discover irreparable splits can occur when we hit in the wrong place. We have to understand the forces at work in our lives in order to flow with them, to step back and really look at latent possibilities we don’t notice if we are too intent to “get to work”.
So, I’ve decided, I’ll take some lessons from the master carpenter. This will be fun and far less work!
I thought it over.
Those upbraided by Jesus as ” generation of vipers!” “whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones” “blind leaders of the blind” etc. were never the tax collectors,prostitutes, thieves sinners etc. to whom he showed abounding love and mercy. These sayings were hurled at the holy elite who considered themselves good and righteous, far superior to this itinerant carpenter with his radical message of love.
The Sunday school picture of Jesus can be misleading, he was not always meek and mild. Taking a whip to the money changers in the temple was pretty violent and aggressive! The difference? – His anger was due to his great love for others, those cowed and exploited by the rich and “holy” it was never for himself.
Watching the ducks waddling across the thin layer of ice I thought how like this coming year. So much of the world seems to be walking on very thin ice indeed. Last year brought impending change, Brexit, the US elections, the worsening Middle East situation etc. etc.. Even my normally stable, cozy little island (UK) stands on the brink of flux.
Then I got to thinking. If the ice did brake its no big deal for the ducks. They can swim and they have warm greased feathers. It might be momentarily scary, but no big problem. So I thought are we like ducks? Can we swim?
Then I remembered we know the one who could walk upon the water and my apprehension vanished.
As focus drifts from Christmas to resolutions a misleading conception saddens me – “abundant life”. It’s preached as being God’s promise of abundant supply, riches, a prospering business, a new car etc. etc. Some even measure others by their prosperity. How odd to think that a God who chose to be born in a stable and wander the land as an itinerant preacher, sleeping rough with his followers, would be interested in such things.
Sure He cares for His children and supplies their needs as promised, but this gift of “abundant life” is so much more than that! Like the old picture of a child dropping her doll to receive a snow white dove, abundant life is so much more!
John says “in Him was life” the life, creative power to heal and mend hearts, minds and bodies. It says, “He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly”. That this power of life can live in us to such a degree that it bursts forth on others, bringing life, healing, and peace. “Abundant life” is authority to access the power of the spiritual realm and perform miracles through that “life spirit” bringing forth fruit, not of sordid material possessions, but miracles of healing, redemption and changed lives. The former pales in comparison to the latter.
Just a thought when setting goals and resolutions.
I’d heard this song many times, but this morning it spoke to my heart.
“Cast out our sin”… those secret sins hidden in the heart, pride, selfishness, arrogance, the ones we hide from all but Him.
“Enter in”… the habitation of Christ – the only way we can love the way He loves, His spirit in us. This may seem scary, to give free entrance to another, our will giving way to theirs (visions of “The exorcist”). But not with Christ, for “God is love”. His spirit is love, pure love bringing joy, peace and compassion for our fellow man. It’s like having the one you are totally in love with, and whom you trust utterly, live within you, knowing you can never be parted and that He’ll defend and care for you, not only in this life but forever.
“Be born in us today.” We celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas, yet He can be born in our hearts every day, the Christmas miracle replayed many times over. I’ve long believed that was what He meant when He said, “greater things shall ye do because I go to the Father.” His power and love manifest in millions of hearts around the world. Only in this way can peace on earth truly come. Though we may be well meaning, our hearts are not pure enough without his spirit ( the hidden sins remain) and without His power we cannot defeat the evils of this world.
I rejoiced in the realisation that the miracle of Christmas can live in my heart every day – Christ with man.