This is the text of my contribution to the URC’s daily devotional for last Thursday. It is the final installment of a series on the Apostle’s Creed.
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John 10:7-10 (NRSV)
So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The Life Everlasting – that’s a big concept!
What do you imagine when you think about ‘everlasting’? A huge sky filled with innumerable stars? An endless ocean stretching to the horizon and beyond?
These images of vastness can help us to ponder God’s awesome nature, but that’s not really what the Apostle’s Creed means when it talks about The Life Everlasting. Jesus called it abundant life, or “life in all its fullness”, or “life, and far more life than before”. If you’re a Star Trek fan, “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it”.
When the New Testament mentions eternal life, the root word is αἰών (aion), which gives us our word eon. In geology, eons denote the different types of life on earth. Algae belong to one eon, humans to another. Our life is not just algae-life that carries on for a long time, it’s a totally different sort of life.
And so it is with The Life Everlasting. It’s not merely the same old life lived for ever and ever, but a different type of living, an Everlasting type of living. Living with a capital L. That’s what Jesus was getting at when he spoke of abundant life, in all its fullness, life eternal – now.
It’s not only about after we die. The Nicene Creed puts it as “the life of the world to come”. Not life in the world to come (although that’s true), but life of the world to come. Right here. Right now. Heaven on earth in a very real sense.
Eternal life is not about duration, but quality. We say, “I believe in the Life Everlasting”, how will you live it today?
God of all creation,
You have set eternity in our hearts
that we might have a foretaste
of the life of the world to come.
Help us to live the Life Everlasting
in the abundance promised by Christ our Lord
while we wait for his coming in glory.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.