The phrase “eternal life” is not a definition of duration; it is a declaration of source. Eternal life is God’s life, and yes, it does last forever. But that’s not the point. We, like the Jews who confronted Jesus in John 5, often do not get the point.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. JN 5:39-40
God wants more than to simply spend time (even lots of time) with us; he wants to share life with us. We miss out on that life either because we are unaware it is available or we are unwilling to avail ourselves of the offer.
So what is eternal life, really? “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3). We are back to the biblical concept of knowing: To know him who is true (1 John 5:20).
What is a missionary’s real job? To introduce people to Life. To the person of Jesus, not to the doctrine of salvation. The whole process of growing as a disciple (a follower of Jesus, by the way, not of ourselves or our mission or our church) revolves around knowing Christ. To be effective in pointing others to Jesus one must be familiar with him. To be an effective ambassador who accurately reflects the Master one must be steeped in the person of Christ, not just his teachings.
That is precisely where we tend to get off track.
We become more wrapped up in the work of the Lord than we are in love with the Lord of the work. We put more effort into dissecting the Word of God than we do into discovering the author. We strive to perfect our methods and our materials when we need to be focused on our transformation. Missionaries do this. You and I do this. But when we applaud our missionary friends for the wrong things, when we hold them accountable for the wrong things, we hinder the accomplishment of God’s goal: that they may have life, and life in abundance.
You and I, as missionary advocates, must keep our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith. We must behold his glory so as to be transformed into the glory we behold. Having started there we are then qualified to point our missionary friends to the one who has captured our hearts, our imaginations, our allegiance. He will do the same for them, and then they will be able to do the same for others.
There’s so much more to say on this topic. Until next week...