In reading I John again, I am struck by its emphasis on the reality of eternal life.
At the very beginning of the letter, John is careful to delineate the actuality of his message because he wants it to be clear that the radical thing he’s saying is really true. He testifies by repeating himself. He says, “what we have heard, what we have seen … we have seen … what we have seen and heard …” (I John 1:1-3). His point is to say as convincingly as he can that he knows firsthand that God, the Word of Life, who is Himself Eternal Life became a man—for the purpose of making it possible for people to participate in fellowship with the Father and the Son.
John speaks as one marveling at the truth of the situation.
Regarding his whole epistle, he writes, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:13). John wants all his readers to be just as convinced as he is that we have eternal life—because Eternal Life has come to us in Christ.
John also says it this way: “And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life” (I John 2:25).
So I’ve been asking myself. Do I believe I really have eternal life? I believe that I have Christ, and since He is Eternal Life, it only makes sense for me to believe this. But do I believe it?
People often ask, especially at leadership conferences, for us to identify exactly what it is that we want others to say about us when we die. In other words, Christian leaders are often challenged to consider what kind of legacy they want to leave behind.
But how often are we challenged to give evidence of our belief in eternal life?
How often are we confronted with statements like this?
· You know, if you really do have eternal life, then it doesn’t make sense for you to hold back from following Jesus fully right now.
· Why are you holding back? Do you not know that your life here on Earth is only the beginning of your life?
· You can afford to obey the Lord God. If you die, it will be OK because you do have eternal life.
In I John 5:3, the writer says very plainly, “And His commandments are not burdensome.” I think I now see why. God’s commandments are not burdensome if you’re not hanging on to your own life.
A new friend of mine just told me about a prayer that her mentor has been praying. It’s not exactly on topic with I John, but it fits well enough that I want to include it here so some of us might be a little more unburdened: "Lord, I am not going to ask You anymore to bless anything that I am doing. But if there’s something You are doing, and You give me the chance to hang around it, I would be all about that."
In closing, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’d rather obey God than focus too much on my legacy—because in Christ we have more life after we die.