THE REAL TEST
"Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus.’Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?' He answered, 'What's written in God's Law? How do you interpret it?'
"He said, 'That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence -- and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself.'
"'Good answer!' said Jesus.’Do it and you'll live.'" Luke 10:25-28 (The Message).
I think Jesus got it all wrong! Aren't we supposed to accept Him as our personal Saviour and then we'll go to heaven when we die?
But that's not what the man asked Him, not what to do to get to heaven but what to do to inherit eternal life. But aren't they the same thing? Apparently not, according to Jesus.
According to the Bible, whatever we would like to believe, the moment we are conceived we have human life and that life will never end. We live the first phase of it on earth in an imperfect world and among imperfect people. We have been given free will as part of the package of being human and that means that we have choices to make and we have to take responsibility for our choices. Our choices also have consequences which affect our lives and the lives of the people we interact with every day.
Our natural bent is doing our own thing, to be greedy and selfish and to hate God because we fear the consequences of our rebellion. Why? Because Satan lied to the first pair and lured them into disobedience with false promises. Now we live in the shadow of Adam's foolish choice!
But God didn't create us to live like that. He created the universe, the earth and everything on it to live together in peace and harmony as a reflection of His nature. In order to fulfil His dream He wanted us to choose to love Him and to obey Him because of our love for Him. But the devil had other ideas...and we live in the result.
But God was not put off. In fact He used these very circumstances to reveal one of the most beautiful aspects of His nature -- what the Bible calls "what is heaviest in Him -- His mercy." Because of His mercy, He sent Jesus to show us what He is really like and to pay the debt of sin we owe Him. He took the punishment for our sin on Himself by sacrificing His life for us so that He could bring us back to the Father.
Because He has done away with the reason for our antagonism, God gives us the opportunity to return to Him and to submit ourselves to His authority. Amazingly, when we do that, He reciprocates by giving us His Holy Spirit to live in us. He replaces our old alienation with a new attitude and disposition. Rebellion gone, we are now able to love Him and to express that love by the way we treat our fellow human beings.
This is what Jesus means by "life", not endless physical existence but an exuberant life that embraces all people as family and cares more about them than about ourselves. In the environment of God, where nothing out of character with God can exist, everything that does not reflect Him gets pruned off. This is the process we go through as we serve out our apprenticeship in this life.
Eternal life does not begin when we die. It is God's gift to those who choose to return to His original plan to have a family living together in harmony with Him and with one another in unselfish caring and generosity. This is the evidence that we are truly His family, living life His way here and now. Death is merely the completion of our apprenticeship and the beginning of participation with Him in His forever family in His presence.
Are you someone who had "accepted Jesus" and think you have eternal life or are you really living by loving Him and His children? That's the real test!
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