Life as a gift
Fairly often I hear someone ask the question: “If God wants to give me/us eternal life, why would it need to come through Jesus? Can’t God just give it to me directly? In fact, hasn’t God already given us an immortal/eternal soul?”
First, and I know quite controversially, I would suggest that the Biblical view of human life is that no human being is inherently “immortal.” Or, to say it as it is said in 1 Timothy 6:15-16: “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”
In addition, we humans are described in 1 Corinthians as beings who are not immortal, and who can only become immortal if God gives us that gift at some point in the future (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). So far God’s gift of immortality has only been given to one human being—Jesus (Acts 2:24-36). The idea that we already have immortal souls is probably some combination of wishful thinking and our Platonic philosophical heritage. Wherever it comes from, it is not a Biblical teaching. The Biblical teaching is that immortality is a gift that our Creator can give.
Second, our wildly independent and individualistic way of thinking that life should be “just you and me God” is completely out of harmony with all of our experience of life. Which one of us is self-generated? Haven’t we all received our current life form first from our Creator, then from many generations of humans who passed this life down to me/us, and then specifically from our biological parents?
Even then, after we were born, many of us were nurtured by the life of our mother at her breasts. And, every day of our lives our food, our clothing, our housing, etc. come to us at the expense of the life of hundreds of plants and animals as well as some part of the life of human laborers. Every bit of our life is a gift from the life of others, and it often costs them their lives to nourish our lives.
The Native Americans have it right—we should be extremely thankful to all of the plant, animal, and human life that is expended in giving each of us another day to live.
And the Biblical writers are certainly in line with all of our other experiences of what it costs to have life when they claim that the way God is giving us “eternal life” (the life of God’s future) is through the very costly faithful living and dying of Jesus. Why would we expect this even more wondrous life of God’s future to be any less dependent on another person, or any less costly to another person, than all of the rest of God’s gift of life that we have experienced so far?
Perhaps instead of our prideful individualistic spirit, it is a time for a great big “THANK YOU!”—today and every day.
Pastor Ron Simkins