So many people spend their lives mourning the death of Christ for their sins. Yes He did die, but He got up again so that we too could move on from the grave and into new life with Him.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the term “afterlife” in the context of the question, “Do I believe in an afterlife?”
I suppose the answer would have to be no, and I’ll tell you why:
To say that I believe in an “afterlife” implies that the only “life” there is takes place while we walk upon the earth, and that what follows “after” is not life, but something else. However, the truth is that although life begins for us when we are born in our physical bodies, it does not end when our physical bodies cease to function.
Our lives begin physically when we are born on the earth; they begin anew in the Spirit when we choose Christ as our King. His kingdom is not of this world, but it is of heaven, and so we become citizens of heaven, even while we continue to live on the earth. Heaven, then, isn’t a place where we go when we die, but it’s a place we live in currently, and where we will continue to live even after our bodies pass away. There is only one life—in Christ—the end of which is not concurrent with our physical end; and there is one true death—to reject Christ. If we reject Christ, then even the life we live on the earth is death—we are not truly living, because we were meant to live in heaven, in the presence of God, always.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18
Life is continuous; we who choose Christ are continually being shaped into who God has always said we are. Sometimes we are granted glimpses in the Spirit, but we see “in a mirror dimly,” as Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 13:12). When we “die,” we are changed yet again—the veil of the physical is removed completely, and we see clearly what has always been present: the Kingdom of Heaven.
So I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I believe in eternal life.
I was talking to my very good friend last night about my current life situation(s) and all the uncertainty that comes with, and she remarked that “Limbo” seems like the story of my life right now.
Oh, that is the most apt description of my life I have ever heard.
My autobiography could be titled “Limbo” with the subtitle, “How low can you go (and still trust God)?”
(I know that’s mixing metaphors, but it’s still true.)
In the past year I have started college solely by financial aid, lost my job, been unable yet to find a new job, had to move out of my lovely apartment and in with a friend (who is absolutely wonderful, by the way); and just today I found out that a class I took this quarter may be worthless as it pertains to my degree requirements. These are a few of the recent major happenings of my life and, needless to say, I am stressed.
I’ll admit it, this post is a little ranty, but I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.
My favorite passage in Scripture when I first got saved was Matthew 6:25-34; you could call it the “Do Not Worry” mini-sermon (it is part of the portion known as the Sermon on the Mount). Jesus says that no one should worry about anything: if God feeds sparrows and clothes flowers, both of which are virtually useless, then He will certainly take care of a person’s every need; if one seeks Him first, that person will be supplied from heaven. It is certainly true, and I believe God keeps His promises, but man is it hard!
I feel like I am going through training on how to be Paul: “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11-12).
Some may say I should think about people in other countries, especially those experiencing actual persecution for the faith. It is true: I can’t hold a candle to their suffering. When I look at the things other people go through, it makes me seem downright “whiny”. A wise woman once said something to effect of, “We don’t get to decide what is a big deal to someone else.” We can’t compare our own suffering to that of others.
After writing all of that, I am reminded of this: God Is Who He says He Is, regardless of circumstance or experience. He Is faithful, He Is love, He Is power.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
His plans for our welfare don’t mean we all get a Ferrari and a house on the coast. His plans for our welfare mean everything will be taken care of, even if it’s not the way we imagined or planned: I didn’t plan on being an unemployed student, while seeing many of my friends happily married, some with kids, able to pay their own bills.
God’s plans are also for His glory. What seems hard to us on earth—finding a job, finding a mate, breaking addiction, leaving the past, fighting through illness, mastering emotions—all of this is easy for God, not because it is meaningless, but because He is God. Jesus lived on the earth: he experienced the hard life first-hand—he even asked God to not have him go to the cross… But he went, because he trusted God, and God said that was the only way that Jesus could be The Way.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18 (Paul)
We can’t compare our sufferings on earth with those of others, because what tears the heart of a person can’t be measured by other people. But when I look to heaven, not as a coming thing but as something that is here now—as Jesus said, it is in our midst—then my hope is restored; there is glory to be revealed to us, and also through us:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
God has something amazing to bring through us, to be witnessed by those on earth and in the heavenly realms. Some of those in the heavenly realms include the enemy, who hates us and will do everything he can to get our eyes off God and on what’s wrong, and he’s good at it. But my God is greater, and I know my story isn’t over yet.
…we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I know that His love is big enough for me to tell Him how I really feel; I know He holds me, and I know He is leading me. So after I’ve flopped down and complained, I get up and brush off the dirt and follow after Him, and I know He’s still smiling at me.