When I was young the idea of living forever seemed pretty cool. Just the thought of it made me feel invincible, like Superman or something. As young kid in church, when I would hear the terms heaven and eternal life, I would associate my super hero fantasies with those theological concepts thinking after I died I would be able to fly, bench press automobiles and defy the laws of nature; and of course live forever.
Even though I matured to the point of letting go go my super hero hopes for heaven, for the longest time I held on to the belief that eternal life was something we only experienced after we died. But over the years, I’ve come to realize we can actually experience eternal life before we die. Dallas Willard says eternal life is more accurately described as an “eternal kind of life.” It’s about quality more than quantity. Eternal life is a certain type of life, not just existence after death without end.
In the gospel of John, Jesus says he came to give life and to give is abundantly. So perhaps you could say eternal life is characterized by abundance. Not abundant in stuff, but richness and depth.
So what is this eternal kind of life?
It’s a life empowered by grace not dis-empowered by shame.
It’s a life not driven by condemnation & guilt.
It’s a life where forgiveness & mercy freely flow to us from God and therefore can freely be given to others.
It’s a life that seeks to support all that is good, true and beautiful.
It’s a life of integrity that seeks to do what is right & just.
It’s a life not motivated by fear & worry.
It’s a life that lives out the belief everything’s gonna be okay no matter your circumstances.
It’s a life not characterized by explosions of anger and deep-seated rage.
It’s a life of deep-seated joy & peace even when thing are out of control.
It’s a life where all of your deepest longings and desire satisfied in God.
It’s a life marked by love.
It’s a life of being secure in who God has made you to be and because of that you can freely love others.
That (and so much more) is this eternal kind of life. Believe it or not, we have access to it now in the personal of Jesus. Eternal life isn’t something that we achieve, but it’s something that we receive. We receive it from personally knowing God through the person of Christ.
In John 17, after his last supper with his disciples, before heading to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says a prayer for his disciples and for believers every where. And he begins his prayer saying,
Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Eternal life is found in an intimate relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus, which again, we have access to NOW! Essentially, eternal life isn’t about getting into heave after you die, it’s about getting into heaven before you die. It’s about having access to God the Father and His Son, through His Spirit today, here and now.
Where in your life are you experiencing this “eternal kind of life?”
In what areas of your life would you like to experience it more?