Into the Life of Jesus

Russell Moore is a good writer. When I read this in the latest issue of Christianity Today my heart lept for joy:

Perhaps we dread death less from fear than from boredom, thinking the life to come will be an endless postlude to where the action really happens. This is betrayed in how we speak about the ‘afterlife’: it happens after we’ve lived our lives. The kingdom, then, is like a high-school reunion in which middle-aged people stand around and remember the ‘good old days.’ But Jesus doesn’t promise an ‘afterlife.’ He promises us life – and that everlasting. Your eternity is no more about looking back to this span of time than your life now is about reflecting on kindergarten. The moment you burst through the mud above your grave, you will begin an exciting new mission – one you couldn’t comprehend if someone told you. And those things that seem so important now – whether you’re attractive or wealthy or famous or cancer-free – will be utterly irrelevant.

The kingdom of God, both now and in the age to come, is ultimately about what Paul calls being ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3-4) – finding your life and mission in Jesus’ own, not in fitting him into the kingdom you design for yourself. For too long, we’ve called unbelievers to ‘invite Jesus into your life.’ Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life’s a wreck. Jesus calls you into his life. And his life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.

Seeing our lives now, and the universe around us, as precursors to the life to come, we’re freed from the ingratitude that turns away from God’s good gifts. We pour ourselves into loving, serving, and working because these things are seeds of the tasks God has for us in the next phase. At the same time, we don’t invest any of those things with infinite meaning. My life’s meaning isn’t found in the brief interval from birth to grave – in a happy marriage, a satisfying job, or the kind of ‘success’ my in-laws would recognize at the Thanksgiving table.

Instead, I can give thanks to God for a life, a universe, and a flow of history that are, in the long run, Christ-shaped. I long for the arrival of the kingdom that has long bubbled around us, invisible as yeast. And I yearn for the moment when, an heir to the throne of the cosmos, I join with my brothers and sisters – and our Galilean pioneer – to sing out, ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for yesterday we were dead.’

“A Purpose Driven Cosmos: Jesus Christ embodies the meaning of life, the goal of history, and the pattern of the future,” in Christianity Today (February, 2012), 33.

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