SHARING GOD'S VISION AND QUEST
Romans 6:23 says we earn death by sinning but that "eternal life" is a free gift from God.
Eternal life isn’t simply "endless" life! It is a quality of life that is part of the "new creation" that has come about in Jesus Christ. It isn’t just endless existence; it's life that takes its nature from the kind of life epitomized by Jesus Christ. Those that come to share eternal life—for which they now look forward and will one day fully experience individually—will enjoy it in the redeemed creation (see Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Romans 8:18-25). But it will be "life" and not some vapory excuse for "life"! The Christian hope is not summed up in some ghostly existence but embodied and immortal life, lived out in holiness and joy.
It's a great blunder to reduce eternal "life" to "forgiveness of sins". A rich relationship between two humans will involve mutual forgiveness but to boil the relationship down to that alone robs it of much that is vibrant, challenging and precious. I don’t suggest that Christians consciously reduce life with God to "sins forgiven" but so much literature and speech comes to focus on talk about sin that, simply by default, it sometimes appears that that’s what it’s all about; that and nothing else.
There is of course much talk about "let’s all be honest and pure and kind and tolerant" and such like. But more often than not—so I presently judge—this is "the right response" to God for his having forgiven us. It is "gratitude," don’t you see. And how can we not agree with that? Well...it’s not that simple; it’s richer than that.
To enter into "life with God" is to throw our weight into his purposes; it is to fulfil our destiny as beings God created to reflect him as his image. To enter life with God is (sort of) to ask him, "Now, how does this work, this friendship of yours and ours; what does it mean to 'image' you?" God has a dream and vision and he is working toward that and to enter into a living relationship with him is to share his dream, pursue his goals, act with him to bring to completion his overarching purpose. It isn't groveling and endlessly talking about our sins and how nice it was of him to forgive us! It’s gratitude! How could we not be grateful to him for giving us life (and all that that means)? But it’s got to be more than gratitude, it’s astonished commitment, it’s looking in fathomless wonder at what we’ve been called to share and plunging into it, way out of our depth!
There’s something wild about the universe, William James said (saying more than he knew or believed), and we are needed to bring it into line. Eternal life is not about a post-mortem happiness, it’s about sharing God’s heart and purposes for his creation, it’s about living in his image.
I’m a great sinner and God knows I need forgiveness but I’m bound to say that there’s too much of this morbid self-examination. This constant taking of our spiritual temperatures and checking our religious pulses wastes too much time and energy and more importantly it takes our eyes off God, his purpose and his creation. Life with him isn’t just about us and how spiritually fine-tuned we are!
Some years ago when existentialism was enjoying one of its popular phases a USA senator felt compelled to say that he was weary of people that were always experiencing angst over just about everything. He complained that he didn’t have the luxury of having an inner debate about every blessed decision. He said they were agonizing over whether to go to the toilet while he was forced to make decisions quickly that affected hosts of people. He was complaining about people who took themselves much too seriously and can’t take their eyes off themselves. That’s the kind of thing I’m trying to get at here.
Constantly having ourselves on our minds is too great a burden. We're not up to carrying it. No wonder we often get weary and sometimes sour. Anyway, it's the wrong burden (compare Matthew 11:28-30).
We mustn’t think that God lives with us as if we were a mass of isolated humans. He doesn’t! We mustn’t think the center of his thinking is about sin. It isn’t! It’s about life! And it’s about more than you and me!
And I know in my bones, in the light of the biblical witness, that God wants to gather around him as companions in his grand enterprise, people who have peace and joy in and with him, people who are half-astonished that they have been privileged to be part of the grand adventure that has life at the end of it. He isn't obsessed with death, he isn't obsessed with sin; he's all about life and life and life! He's all about life for everyone rather than just about life for us.
So don't wonder about the unanswered questions. It's all right for God to know some things that you and I don't know. Rejoice in your life with him, freely accept his eagerly offered forgiveness which comes as part of your being united with the Lord Jesus [Romans 6:3-8]. Trust him that you're safe in the Lord Jesus [Romans 8:1]. Believe that! And finding yourself accepted in the Beloved One, see yourself as one of God's companions, riding on a white horse and following the Rider on the white horse to bring the word of rescue and hope and life. See yourself with your companions as making war against all the forces of cynicism, gloom and corrupted power and for the sake of the entire human family.
Once more, don't worry about how it all ends. Trust God and in the name of the blessed Lord Jesus throw onto the scale the stubborn ounces of your weight and believe that this entire divine and human drama will end gloriously. And know this, however fierce the battle, however much pain, in whatever form it comes, whatever scars you bear when the war is over you'll be glad you were in it. And those who refused the call and worked to take care of number one and only number one—they will hold their humanity cheap when they see the glory of God's companions on that day of honorable triumph that sees millions finally, permanently and gloriously free.COME WHAT MAY, WE WILL NOT GO DOWN WITHOUT GETTING BACK UP; WE ARE GOD'S COMPANIONS!