Eternal Life Now
John 17:3 This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
My defect of desiring instant gratification pervades my entire personality, affecting more than just my appetite for drugs or food. It takes effort for me to delay any pleasure until tomorrow, so when I am told that as a Christian, I will receive some reward after I die, that is a tough sell. The afterlife may or may not be far off, but as it is not right now, it is difficult for me to be motivated by it on a daily basis. I have a hard time putting reward off until tomorrow, much less until eternity.
I have thus, found great comfort in the reality of Jesus’ teaching in this passage. In it, He says that eternal life is not something we attain only after death. Eternal life is the spirit life we are born again into when we come to know God. We know our flesh life well, but when we come to faith, we begin to know this eternal spirit life where we touch God, which is the essence of eternal life.
This eternal spirit life will, in fact, extend into the afterlife but that does not mean I cannot know it here and now. I know it now in the confines and defects of the flesh life which means I will never know perfection or heaven here on earth, but that does not mean I cannot come to know God better than I do.
This is the purpose of my life on Earth, to know and love God more and more. Jesus greatest command was to love God with all my heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). I daily have the choice to pursue my flesh life or my spirit life. Predictable results will follow (Galatians 6:7,8).
Whenever I meet with a fellow struggler who has relapsed or caused some destruction, I ask him to tell me the story of how he got there. The story is always the same. I was doing well. I was following God every day and then I started to get lazy. I started to slide back to the old life… I know the story well because it is my story.
Success leads to complacency and then, by default, we turn from pursuing God to pursuing self. In our pursuit of self, we find self, in all its defects. Destruction inevitably ensues. The consequences vary, but we all do this. We pursue self and we find self.
Thankfully, the opposite is also true. I may follow self to destruction, or I may daily, choose to follow God to eternal life. I can spend the rest of my life in this flesh, realizing and knowing the greater reality of my eternal spirit life. I can know the purpose, meaning, joy, pleasure and satisfaction that I have always desired.
I have lived for so long thinking I had to steal my pleasure in the scandalous devices of the flesh life, when all along, I could have known peace, joy, love and life in my spirit life. Daily, I can pursue the dead end of me, or I can pursue real, eternal life in God.