Aloha Friday Message – April 29, 2016 – I’m Gonna Live Forever

1618AFC042916 – I’m gonna live forever! (↔ Music Link)

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John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

1 Peter 3:14-15 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.

Sunday is May 1, 2016 – The Sixth Sunday of Easter. We are closing in on Pentecost Sunday and the end of the Easter Season. It goes so fast! For those of us “of a certain age,” time seems to be flying by. When I was 11 or so, it seemed like Summer Vacation lasted for years, and finally when September came around and I could go back to school, life sped up a little; but still it seemed like is was ages before Christmas would get there. Now that I’m nearly 70 (chronologically, but physiologically I’m more like 107!), I just can’t keep up any more. I go to church Sunday morning, and next thing I know it’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m working on a new post. Where does the time go!?!?!

It goes into Forever, that’s where it goes. You know, I keep telling people we’re all going to live forever. For some of us that’s great news! For some of us, that’s terrible news! And for a few of us, that’s irrelevant, because they don’t believe in FOREVER. Sometimes I think that’s a little odd because we use that word – forever – lots of times. “It took, like, forever, for them to get ready.” “I will love you forever (and ever).” “BFFs” I think we don’t really reflect on how long FOREVER is. “Forever” and “Eternal” connote a state of being that is beyond the boundaries of time – maybe even a nonlinear existence. Eternality is central to Christ’s teaching – the core of his ministry is that in him we have life (think John 3:16 here). ETERNALITY is without beginning or end, it is perpetual, unending, immutable, incontrovertible,  permanent, unimaginable for the minds of earthlings; but we talk about eternity so often, you’d think we would know what we’re talking about. God’s eternality is very important in our own existences because that same eternality is built into us – it is part of the “image and likeness of God” that makes us human; it is what makes it possible for us to experience “forever.” Here’s how I attempt to visualize that.

Who remembers the Plane Geometry? Can you differentiate between a Line and a Ray? A line is a straight one-dimensional figure having no thickness and extending infinitely in both directions. In Geometry, a ray is a line with a single endpoint (or point of origin) that extends infinitely in one direction. In my mind, God is somewhat like a LINE, and I am somewhat like a RAY. That helps me conceptualize it a little better, but it is also very limiting. God is more like a dynamic-array matrix, and I’m more like a linear equation. The thing is, all of that only begins to describe living forever, eternal life, and/or life everlasting. Let’s look at that a little closer and see if we can identify what appeal there is in living forever.

Why would we want to live forever? As we age, we actually start falling apart. Our body breaks down, malfunctions, and gets to be a pretty annoying reminder of our mortality. The idea of immortality is that that breakdown would cease and we would have “everlasting life,” life that is continuously renewed – without effort on our part – in ways that are supremely pleasant. Now, I confess that sometimes I wonder – if school-year summers were so long – what in the world would I do with and during FOREVER? The theologians tell me it won’t matter because I will be in the presence of God and his angels and saints, and I will be so filled with joy that every moment of FOREVER will be jam-packed with gratitude, worship, and praise so that FOREVER will always seems like NOW – not now here on Earth, but NOW is FOREVER. The ideology that Time is linear won’t rule my life, period. That’s what we want if we believe in FOREVER, and that is what Jesus promised just before he called out Lazarus. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

Another reason we find Eternal Life so attractive is because it’s part of our nature. Scroll back up and look at ETERNALITY. That “something” in us that makes us want to spend FOREVER with God is the Eternal Life he put there so that we could be with HIM. He has not deserted us – we know he is still with us because we can follow him and believe in him – but we ARE separated from him. When we get back together with him, we will be together with him FOREVER. That is what everything in Scripture promises.

How do we claim that promise of FOREVER?

Read John 11:25-26 again. That’s how we do it. By WHY do we do it? Why is everlasting life something for which we hope? Well, besides the absence of tears, and pain, and illness, and hunger, and all manner of human temporal miseries which are the consequences of sin, we also look forward to the PRESENCE of the Eternal Inhabitants of Heaven – the Trinity, the Angels, and The Saints. So, do you believe that? If you do, are you always “‘ … ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you.’ ?” Can we do that? Can you and I defend our faith? Do we know our faith? How do we get FAITH?

We get FAITH by knowing the Lord. That verse from Proverbs up there gives us a good clue on how that’s done: Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Our path becomes a RAY when we acknowledge God (← TRINITY) in every aspect of our life – which is why God (← TRINITY) can say, “and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”  That sounds like a pretty GOOD deal to me! I believe it, I do! Why? Take a look at this: John 14:29 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. (Check out John 14:23-29. Many of us will hear this in church this weekend.) God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – is eternal. That’s important because God can’t give us what he doesn’t have. He can give us eternal life because it is HIS Life, HIS Nature. WOW! Why? How? Why – because he Loves us. How – through the redemption of the Christ of God which calls us to love Jesus by keeping his commandment to “love one another as (≡) I have loved you.”

I want to share an excerpt from that longer passage in John. John 14:25-27 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you.26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” HIS Peace becomes MY Peace. I do not hold my peace. I am held in Peace.

1Peter3.15SThis week’s post was inspired by 1 Peter 3:15. In my heart, in your heart, in OUR hearts, let us sanctify Christ as Lord and In all [y]our ways acknowledge him so that everyone who lives and believes in [Jesus] will never die. Do you believe this? I do, and it is the Hope that is within me. It’s such a BIG Hope that I cannot help but share it. As I write this, I’m trying to follow The Spirit’s leading, and there is one more thing I am led to share that wraps this up. It is the response to 1 Peter 3:14 – 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated …. Here it is:

Romans 5:1-5 5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Don’t just “Live long and prosper.” Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, you ARE going to live FOREVER! It is my sincere HOPE to see you there.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 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.

 

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

Want more? Reread this: 1 Peter 3:14-17

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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