In my small group discussion this week, seeing 1 John 5 through the eyes of one of our members, I was struck afresh by these verses: “[God] has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” (vv. 11-12, NLT). The question came up, what is a meaningful life? Aren’t there plenty of people around the world who are living good, fulfilling lives, even if they don’t profess to know Jesus? My instinct was to give the quick, “right” answer, the Sunday school answer. Of course their lives are empty. Of course they couldn’t be happy or find meaning without Jesus. But then, I do know people who seem quite content with their lives, who are good and kind. Do they even know they are missing something? And who am I to judge whether they are truly happy or not?
But then, this life that John was speaking of, it is life in a spiritual sense, life as it was meant to be, intimately connected with God, with nothing being able to separate someone from his love. It is eternal life, life beyond the grave, yet it begins now as we live more abundantly with him. And everyone, even happy, fulfilled people, have to face the fact they they will die someday. Yet I am convinced that there is no satisfying answer to that dilemma other than Christ and the eternal life he has made possible for us to live with God.
But, like Pastor Tim, I want God to unpack what he really means in his Word when he talks about this “life.” If I am to be part of WRCC’s mission to connect every life to Jesus, I feel I must ask these questions. What makes life with Jesus unique? What makes any other kind of “life” not really life at all? As someone who has known Jesus my whole life, thanks to my wonderful family, I have no previous life to which I can compare my experiences. Yet, like anyone else, I have faced my own difficulties, and I can testify to God’s faithfulness and comfort in the midst of those things, though sometimes I could only see his hand at work as I looked back on the situation.
As we point people to this life of connection with Jesus, I believe we must do so humbly and with great care. Not everyone is seeking deeper fulfillment, at least not consciously, and not everyone senses their need for God. Meanwhile, God will place others on our path, just as he did for me this week, who are clearly seeking and hungering for a deeper knowledge of God and an assurance of life to come, and it is a joy to point them to what we know to be true in Christ. God is at work in both types of people, but our care for those people might take different forms right now. One type might require a lifetime of friendship, another simply a moment of profound conversation in the supermarket. Our responsibility is to be ready to point to Christ in whatever way will speak best to that person, wherever they may be on their spiritual journey.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:18, which says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (NIV). It is only because of our hope beyond this life that we have victory and fulfillment. Here in America, some of us Christians live such rich and blessed lives that we forget where our true hope lies. And if we offer people only our experience of wealth in this life, then we are only holding out an empty dream. Instead, if we connect them to Jesus himself and they find relationship with him, then nothing can take his love away from them.
I know my post today has rambled around a bit, but I hope it has caused you too to think more deeply about what makes life meaningful, what it means to be connected to Christ, and the ways in which we can humbly and winsomely invite people into the life we know in Christ. As WRCC seeks to connect every life to Jesus, may you find yourself connected to him in deeper ways, so that all may see his light in you. God bless!