Have you ever thought about what eternal life is? I mean, have you actually tried to define it? Usually, what I came up with was pretty straightforward. Eternal life is to live forever. You know, life without end. But, after digging a little I found something that was a bit surprising…
Of all the times in Scripture where the phrase “eternal life” is used, I discovered that statement is where we have what comes closest to a definition of eternal life. If there’s a better one, I don’t know it. “Now this is eternal life: that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Whatever we might understand “eternal life” to be, John the narrator, wants us to think of it in relational terms. Forget duration of time or quality of life for a moment and think with John of eternal life relationally. Eternal life is not knowing information, or even having the correct belief system, as good as either of those things may be. Eternal life is found in knowing someone.
Eternal life is knowing God, not just information about God. It is knowing Him, which is, being in relationship with Him. Eternal life is the relationship. If you are in relationship with God, then you have eternal life.
But this statement also brings into focus the root of humanity’s problem.
It is not: We are living the wrong way. That’s just a symptom.
It is not: We believe the wrong things or don’t believe enough of the right things. That’s just blindness. It too is a symptom.
Our problem is: We don’t know God.
Our hearts have been captured, our minds deceived, and our lives destroyed. By not knowing the God who made us, we have fallen in love with someone else. This is death; a separation from the Source of our life, which is a blind, broken, and twisted form of existence. So then, in our brokenness of not knowing the most wonderful Being of all, we have looked, even searched, for a god to replace Him. And we have found hundreds of thousands. I would submit that all are the product of our fallen imaginations.
So… If eternal life is a relationship with God….
- Why do we reduce it to formulas?
- Why do we talk about it like it’s a packaged, ready to sell, life insurance policy?
- Why do we treat it as a thing?
- Why do we try and systematize it into doctrines?
Maybe, just maybe, eternal life is better than we ever dared to dream.
Part 2: Transaction or Relationship?