Posted: 8/17/18 at 1:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
Some people seem to think God is just a provision for the afterlife.
They think of God as a life-insurance policy that merely assures one a place in eternity and that collecting on that policy is only possible after you die. This concept may be popular, but it is misleading.
If you join your life to someone in marriage, do you then wait until you both die before experiencing life together? “That’s nonsensical,” we would say. We marry someone because we want to spend every day from that day on loving them and sharing life together.
So why do we allow our relationship with Christ to become something that is only activated after we die? Where is such a concept found in scripture?
Jesus became flesh and lived among us in order to reveal to us the character and reality of God and to pay the penalty for our sins with his death upon the cross. When we ask Jesus to come and live within us, Eternal God comes to live within us via the Holy Spirit. Jesus, who is eternal life (cf. 1 John 5:11-12), dwells in us from that day on.
We at that point become members of God’s family. As members of a church we become a part of the Bride of Christ, which is the church. Much like in a marriage, we enter into a deep relational commitment to God, and God enters into a deep relational commitment to us. Life changes.
When we invite Christ into our lives and commit ourselves to live for him, the King of God’s kingdom comes to reside in us, to commune with us, to guide us, encourage us, and to give us whatever we need to know and do God’s will (Phil. 1:6; 2:13).
In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells a parable depicting life now. The parable describes the world as a field in which there are both weeds and wheat. In Matthew 13:38 (ESV) Jesus said: “The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one…” He was explaining life on earth as a mixture of people who become sons of the kingdom of God and those who have not yet become children of God.
The point is: Our reception of Jesus makes us children of the kingdom now. We do not have to wait for the future to experience God in our lives, and those values that will become the norm of our lives in heaven become a part of our daily values now. God begins to manifest himself in our thoughts, values, and everyday living.
In 1 John 5:11-12 (ESV): “And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Eternal life is in Jesus. When you or I receive Jesus, we also receive eternal life. Jesus comes immediately to live within us, and our eternal life with God begins.
Jesus came that we might begin to experience the future today—so that we can now begin to daily experience God’s life and presence living with us and in us now. We can experience God’s love today and not have to wait until we die. We can experience God’s power at work in our lives today and not just when we get to heaven. And when believers approach death’s door, we do not do that alone. Jesus leads us through the valley of the shadow of death and out into glorious heaven.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done (today), on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). God wants his kingdom to grow now, here on earth, each day. He wants his values alive in us and influencing our decisions and relationships. God wants to be involved in our lives daily and wants us participating with him in what he is accomplishing each day here.
Why wait for heaven to get to know God better and to experience life with God? Why not receive Christ today and begin to live the future today?