We will live in heaven for eternity
Eternal life begins in the here and now
When the Bible speaks of eternal life or the kingdom of God, we inevitably think of the time after our death, in heaven, after the resurrection. But the kingdom of God and eternal life were not automatically related to the afterlife for Jesus and the rabbis. The afterlife plays a subordinate role in Judaism anyway - not every promise, every reward and the beauty of our existence is dated after death.
Eternal life is less about what awaits us when we have died, but more about a quality of life and vitality that we can already experience in connection with God. Eternal life does not begin when we are dead. It starts now and it's not just about an afterlife, but about having the kind of life that even endures and survives death, a life that is shaped and marked by the eternal God and from eternity .
Eternal life is not simply a synonym for life after death, but a synonym for a fulfilled life, a life in harmony with God, a life out of God's hand, a successful life.
The kingdom of God, this type of life, has just begun with Jesus and extends from eternity into our time and into our everyday life!
Anyone who primarily thinks of the future and the time after death when it comes to the kingdom of God and eternal life will never understand how much Jesus says about our present life, his condition and his potential. If eternal life is above all in the future, then our earthly life is clearly devalued and it is not surprising if we pay so little attention to it.
When Jesus speaks of eternal life, he is less concerned with what our life looks like in eternity than with how the eternal becomes visible in our lives.
Eternal life is Jesus' expression of the good life, life in abundance. A life that is already characterized by the quality, the values and the fullness of the eternal God and the eternal kingdom of God.
For this reason, it is also worth investing in this life, in its quality, in the people, in the environment, in sustainability, in the poor, in the church and in society.
And that's exactly why we at IGW want to make a contribution to ensuring that this world experiences relevant churches and a renewed society. If God's wisdom is already reaching into this world, we cannot allow ourselves to be hostile to education, but rather practice theology with passion, with hope and perspective - in the here and now.
by Martin Benz
Martin Benz is a pastor and Head of Continuing Education at IGW; you can find his blog here.
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