Life… but not as we’ve known it
It’s time I admitted to myself and the world, that I have a fatal condition. I don’t know how much longer I have left to live, but the prognosis is not good; my condition is definitely terminal. Some sufferers live for only a matter of minutes while others survive for many years, but this condition always degenerates and finally ends in death. I was born with a heart condition; not just a heart murmur, but a heart that shouts of its restrictions. The name of this condition is: Letalis Ideo Frux Egredior more commonly known as LIFE! Yes, it is an ironic fact that life on this earth is a fatal condition that will inevitably end in death, but it is also a fact that there is a death that inevitably ends in Life…
Immortality, as something that man can attain to, is legendary. It is the holy grail. Many seek immortality or eternal life, and yet few ever find it. Christians talk a lot about having “eternal life”, and yet in spite of what they say, they are often found to be dead in their religion rather than alive. Perhaps this is because they know eternal life only as a thing in the sweet by and by and don’t realize that eternal Life is not something that we can grasp hold of, nor is it merely “living forever”. The truth is that eternal Life is not a thing at all, eternal Life is a Person. And this Person, Jesus Christ, is not only real Life, but also embodies Truth, and is the Way to know God. He has been given to all of us in this world who suffer from this fatal disease as the ‘Holy Grail’ of God, so that whoever spiritually accepts and chooses to “drink this spiritual Living Water” will live forever in union with Him. (John 4:14).
However, the heart condition that each of us are born with often prevents us from accepting and knowing this Life. Many refuse to drink this Cup, because the cure to our fatal condition is totally the opposite of what we might think. Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have Life, and have it to the full.” But as Spock on Star Trek would say, “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it”. Yes this IS Life, but not as we have ever known it, and it is also Life as many do not want to know it because of the great offence and cost to us.
This Life is a choice: “I have set before you Life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose Life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He isyour Life” (Deut. 30:19,20). But in order to choose Life, we first have to choose death: a death to all that we want… “If we die with Him, we will also live with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11). This is not speaking of our physical life, but our daily life as we know it: who we are, our will, our desires, our plans. Those things are very, very difficult for us to die to and give up. Everything in us and around us tells us the exact opposite: stand up for yourself, protect your rights, fight for yourself and “never surrender”!
But this Life and this Love is worth giving up everything for. This Life is very precious and therefore very costly. Consider the cost…
This Life offends us because it demands our death, but everything in us fights to live.
This Life offends us because it requires our dependence, but we want to be independent and self-sufficient.
This Life offends us because it needs us to see that we really know nothing, but we think we know everything.
This Life offends us because it requires humility and emptiness, but we are proud and full of who we are.
This Life offends us because it is given freely without our being able to do anything to be worthy of it, but we love doing things to make us feel valued and worthy.
This Life offends us because it doesn’t accept our being just good and nice, it wants us dead and buried.
This Life offends us because it demands everything we hold dear: our very selves…
And consider the reward: LIFE! This death and letting go of our life is the only way of experiencing what comes after death: resurrection Life! Ironically, it is the ending which brings the new beginning, and the dying that brings new birth and new Life. So many Christians talk about resurrection Life as a thing that happened to Christ instead of knowing resurrection Life as a Person Who is real and present now and in whom they are experiencing and living resurrection Life NOW! “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought Life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:9,10). This is the Life that we are offered: the resurrection Life of Jesus Christ, living in us every day! This is not some ‘truth’ to know, it is Truth to be experienced.
Life is the most important thing in the world; everything else pales by comparison, but often what we think is real life, is not life at all. It can be an illusion and a lie designed to keep us from searching for real Life. We may think that we are in control and are living a good life, but that is only because we have not yet experienced real Life! I used to think that I knew God and was living an “abundant life” until I was brought to Life; then I knew that I had really been dead. Some of this experience I have already written about elsewhere. You cannot know real Life until you have known real death. You cannot appreciate sight until you have known blindness…
To those who have not yet experienced eternal Life, this will probably sound quite absurd! You cannot explain Life to someone who is dead and you cannot describe sight to someone who was born blind. If you know that this Life I’m talking about is not a reality for you personally, and you want it to be, then I urge you to honestly talk to God about it and ask Him to bring you to Life. Only He can do it, and this Life is God’s desire for you, now, today: “God gave up His only Son because He loved the world (that includes you!) so much. Anyone who trusts Him will not be destroyed, but will have continuous, uninterrupted, inexhaustible Life!” (John 3:16, The Irresistible Life). That is the essence of Love: giving up what is precious to you for the sake of the one you love. We in turn show our love for Him by giving up what is most precious to us: our lives. God has done all that is necessary in giving us His Son and He longs to breathe His Life into you and bring you to Life… “This is eternal Life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).
God’s way is the opposite of our way. We can only know real Life through surrendering to death. “We were dead and buried with Him… so that just as He was raised from the dead by that splendid revelation of the Father’s power, so we too might rise to Life on a new plane altogether. If we have, as it were, shared His death, let us rise and live our new lives with Him!” (Romans 6:4-6 J B Phillips). These are not just words; they are practical truth and they are reality. This new Life can be tested and proved in your life today. Just as a witness at a trial must testify of what they have personally seen, so we too, testify of this Life that we have personally seen and experienced, “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal Life, and this Life is found in His Son. (1 John 5:11). YES, this is real in our lives!
In this new Life we learn to see, hear, speak, think and walk differently as Christ Himself by His Spirit lives in us. Not only do I now live in Him, but He has chosen to permanently live His Life in conjunction with mine. He is committed to me just as I am to Him. And while I can see why we would want to live in Him, I cannot comprehend why He would want to live in me… Love is the only answer I can think of, and that is the glory AND the mystery that Paul speaks of: Christ IN you, the Hope and the Glory!
Jesus declared, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” and as our Life He is living and real, and Life with Him is an adventure far surpassing our adventures here on this earth! He leads us spiritually to where we have never been before and shows us things we have never seen before! What greater adventure could we ever have than to personally and intimately know the One Who created us… this One who is so different to us, and so far above and beyond our understanding and comprehension… In Star Trek their mission was “the final frontier… to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life… to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Our exciting mission is to learn Christ, to explore, seek out and know this new Life Who lives within us, for this is not like the life we have known before! His Life continually leads us to new horizons, new worlds, new challenges, new depths, new heights, new revelations of Himself… and this adventure of Life will go on forever because there is no death in Him and there is nothing finite about Him! He is amazing, awesome, GOD, the Father of Life!
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Phil. 3:10,11.