Our Journey Home Part 3by Fr. Joe on April 27, 2021
OUR JOURNEY HOME, AND OBSTACLES ALONG THE WAY
“Our journey home” We are home – in God, but not yet fully home – in God. However, if we focus on the word heaven, that place in the Bible where we will be after we die, well then, heaven is clearly some place other than where we are right now. How about the other word found in scripture, paradise? You would be hard pressed to convince anyone that what we experience in this life with all its anger and division and killing, can in any form or fashion be considered paradise. Oh, there may be natural beauties around the globe that we may call paradise, but as a global reality? No way.
How about another phrase found in the bible, “eternal life?” I think this phrase may be more helpful to our discussion. If we explore the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the phrase “eternal life” is used in the New Testament forty-three times. Nicodemus asked what he could do to have eternal life. We are told about inheriting eternal life, and the righteous entering eternal life. We are told about having eternal life in the age to come, and everyone who believes in the Son of God may have eternal life. Most of the scriptures seem to point towards some future reality. But then there are verses that tell us that those who believe in Jesus HAVE eternal life – present tense. Paul told Timothy to take hold of the eternal life to which he was called. Jesus said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” And that by believing in Jesus as the Messiah we may have life. Apparently, we can have an abundant life here, as well as on the other side of death.
Contrary to what the scriptures tell us about life eternal, when most people in this world speak of life, they are not referring to what the creator planned for real life. People might use the phrase: “Now that’s really living!” But what do they mean by that? They may mean that they had a great experience! Or they may say that they really partied hard! Or they experienced some other intense emotion. This understanding of living may elicit some hints of what true eternal life has been designed to be. But apart from an encounter with our transcendent God, it is only an imperfect copy or substitute for genuine eternal life.
We are enabled by God to experience this eternal kind of life right here and now. But what about that reality on the other side of death where life will be experienced eternally? Is it some place out there on the other side of the universe? Does it have pearly gates and streets paved with gold? For that matter, is there even pavement and gates there? Is there a physical temple there? Let me answer all of those questions with one word; NO! Oh, I admit, some people do believe that these scriptures are meant to be understood literally. I used to believe that. But I no longer do.
So, what can we believe with confidence about this eternal life; about this home in God now and on the other side of death? We will look at that next week.