John 17 — What eternal life truly is

A lot of times, we think of eternal life as simply living forever in heavenly bliss.  Certainly we will experience that, but to many people, strangely enough, it’s a life devoid of God.

Oh, they have some concept that God will be there and that we’ll know his love, but the idea of really knowing him and being known by him is the last thing on their minds.  And that’s the way they live their lives.

And I’m not just talking about non-Christians.  Even Christians have a tendency to live that way.  They go to church, they sing songs, they hear the message.  Maybe during the week, they even crack open their Bible and pray from time to time.  But the rest of the time, their relationship with God takes a back seat to everything else that goes on their lives.

Work, family, recreation.  All these things are good in themselves, but too often, they leave too little time for us to truly develop our relationship with God.  And ultimately, that’s what life is all about.  That’s what eternal life is about.   Our relationship with him.

In his “Great Priestly Prayer,” Jesus prayed,

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (3)

Note that Jesus doesn’t say eternal life is living forever (though it is).  Note also that Jesus doesn’t say eternal life means being forever happy (though that’s true too).  Rather, he says eternal life is knowing God.  It’s knowing Jesus.  Not just knowing about them.  But truly knowing them in a deep intimate way.

Jesus prayed,

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…I in them and you in me…Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world…I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (21, 23, 24, 26)

Life is all about knowing God.  To draw near to him.  To know him intimately.  And to be known by him.  That’s why eternal life is not just future, it’s right here, right now.  Jesus is saying here that even now, he has revealed the Father to us and is continuing to do so.

And when we go to where Jesus is after our time is done, it’s not the start of something new, it’s a continuation of what we started here on earth.  Wouldn’t it be sad though, to go to heaven with only a passing acquaintance with God?  To have a relationship where you “passed a few emails between you,” but no real relationship?

How much more joyful would it be if all along, you’d been in close relationship with him?  Talking to him, and hearing from him daily?  Seeing him work in you and through you everyday?  And having had that relationship all along, then seeing him face to face?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter.  Having said that, am I really living that way?  Probably not.  But I want to.  How about you?

Lord, I want to know you.  I don’t want to go to heaven with us being virtual strangers.  So Lord, make yourself known to me.  And Lord, let me open up my life to you.  Be in me.  And I in you.  Every moment of every day.  In Jesus name, amen.


About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください:
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