We see life either as an end in itself or as the end of the beginning. For those who have the stamina for dreaming of life eternal, we find a sense of purpose beyond the corporeal. It effects, or should effect, how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. For those not seasoned with the hope of something more, this life is all that there is. It is a stark philosophy. It drifts, if embraced honestly, toward futility. And if we drift toward futility then truth, decency, beauty and the like have no meaning. If it is all meaningless then it is truly ALL meaningless. Bad is good and good is bad. The universe becomes random and subjective.
The fact that a voice inside of us rejects the notion of a purposeless universe is something we’ve spoken of a number of times. Purposelessness drains joy and meaning out of life. While the circumstances of our life may not in fact seem joyful or meaningful at a particular moment, that is beside the point. Joy and meaning are evocative words. They describe something. We may not know them experientially or consistently just yet, but something in us imagines the possibility of such. The Christian faith teaches us that we live on past death. And before that living on takes place, we have this dress rehearsal called life. The language of Scripture describes the change between mortal and eternal life not unlike a chrysalis. We are changed from “glory to glory” as St. Paul once mentioned. And, Jesus realizes in his opening remarks at Passover these very thoughts: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who *detests their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. ~John 12:23-25
We carry on into un unimaginable and beautiful eternity. But we also live on in what we leave behind. We have the possibility of creating not only biological legacies but spiritual ones as well. Life eternal and the life we leave behind are forever wed. As CS Lewis once remarked, those who do the most good on earth are the ones who think most of heaven. Eternity informs our lives and Jesus’ was the most informed life of all.
*Note: We’ll have a go at what Jesus meant by “detesting life” tomorrow.