Having just watched Pole to Pole with Michael Palin, I’m in a thoughtful musing mood. Does watching TV programmes like that make anyone else thoughtful? By the way, I’m now typing in the height of western opulence. I’m sat in my garden with my laptop connected to the net by a wireless network. It’s never this easy in Africa! 🙂 Anyway, thinking eternally. I was struck the other night about how short term we often are. We think of the family, w think about houses, making a profit here and there. Then I was thinking about so much of what Jesus said.
- The Parable of the Rich Owner who built many barns and then died – He gave up eternity for a short term fix.
- The Lost Sheep – If this life is all there is, it doesn’t make sense to go after one lost sheep.
- Lay up your Treasurs in heaven – Again makes no sense if eternity is not important.
What about Jesus did as well. His life seemed to be centred on a different calendar and will to everyone else. He called that his Father’s will. He spent time with his Father when maybe he should have been doing other things. When he was a boy, he disapeared off to the temple and left his mother and father scurrying around looking for him.
Then what about the Apostle Paul who always seemed to be looking forward to an eternal life. Urging the Christians in Revelation to look beyond their persecution under Nero to what lay before them. This strand of eternity seems to go through the entire Bible. In fact, it says of Jesus that he came so that mankind could have eternal life.
Now, all of what I have written so far is nothing new, nothing scintillating. However, I cannot get out of my mind the idea of learning to live like an eternal person, a son or daughter of God who will live forever. John Wesley said, “I’m immortal until my work on Earth is finished”. He missed out about thinking afterwards as well. 🙂 Maybe Christianity is less like learning a load of doctrines (as important as they are) and more like learning to live in the hope of eternal life. So much of the Christian life makes sense if we will live forever (the whole idea is exciting isn’t it?)
- The Fruit of the Spirit is eternal life making it’s impact in us.
- The Gifts of the Spirit are the power of eternity working through us.
Within all of this thought I’ve been thinking about discipleship, that is teaching people and myself to follow Christ. I’m beginning to think of discipleship as teaching people eternal arts. That is no boring or dead thing, as so many people seem to think of Christ, it is full of creative (with a small c) dynamic God centered power that can free us. I so much want to be a person that lives rooted in this life, but so very aware of, and living in the life to come.
In fact, come to think of it, so many of the disciplines in spirituality that are espoused by the Church only make sense also in the light of eternity. Prayer makes no sense if is not dwelling with the eternal person of God. We are caught up with Him. I t should not be that ‘God’ is caught up in our life. The Bible is the eternal word of God. So much of it only makes sense in eternity. Sowing and giving our lives away, only makes sense if there is something to come. Preaching, evangelism and so many other things the Church does, only makes sense if the eternal is real, alive and kicking.
Our lives are so full of immediacy. Immediate satisfaction, immediate action, immediate solutions, just – in – time management, supply and demand, that we crave a spirituality, check that, I sometimes crave a spirituality that is also very immediate. Knowing God, is letting the His eternal life dwell in you, and eternity is a very very long time.
There’s a verse in the Bible (and I can’t remember where at the time of writing) that talk about God placing eternity in the hearts of men (and I presume women as well! 🙂 ) . All of the actions of God’s people are to do with forming, nurturing and causing that eternity to grow and consume us. It is a great thought that we can be eternal people, taking actions and directions that will cause directions and create existence in eternity (think about that…)
I wander if everything else we do is superfluous…