Eternal Life: the least understood phrase in the church today?
Maybe not, but possibly.
I believe these two simple words have been very much misunderstood in the church today. Not that it has been missed, ignored, or even wrongly interpreted, but instead it has only been partially interpreted and defined in our age.
We are all aware that, being washed in the Blood of Jesus, and having the promise of the Holy Spirit, “guaranteeing that which is to come”, that we will live forever with Jesus Christ in glory. This is a promise of God to His children, that we may dwell in the “New Jerusalem”. And this is what many take as the meaning of “eternal life” that Jesus spoke so freely of. However, I believe that this is only a small piece of a much greater, and much more blessed reality.
A Spring of Living Water Welling Up…
Jesus met with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He asks her, “Will you give Me a drink?” The woman, being a Samaritan who do not associate with Jews, replies, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How is it that You ask me for a drink?” So not only was this person a Samaritan, but a woman at that. In that time it would have been considered a taboo for a Jew male to interact with a Samaritan female! But nonetheless, Jesus responds. “If you knew the gift of God and who is is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” Of course, this woman had no clue who she was speaking to.
Then comes Jesus’ most beautiful, most life-filled response. This response is such a glorious summary of who He is, what He did, and how that changes the lives of you and me. It even explains how you and I are to live the Christian life while on earth.
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In my estimation, this passage simply doesn’t make much sense if “eternal life” is reduced to only living forever in Heaven. Though that is a part of it, that is not the full reality.
The full reality is that Jesus Christ is the Living Water. He is the Eternal Life that is a spring welling up, pouring out, quenching thirst, and giving life to men and women. He is that life. The “spring of living water welling up to eternal life” is the very substance that holds all life together; the very thing that created all things, and lives in all things: Jesus Christ.
Yes, you have a deep spring of Life living within you. This Life, or living water, is the most fertile substance on earth. But it isn’t just a substance, or a thing–it’s a Person.
Jesus Christ isn’t this figure, this it that lives in Heaven that tells you and I what to do all day every day. He isn’t someone who just created a bunch of plant and animal life, earth and soil, stars and sky, that simply places you and me here to live to the best of our finite ability. No, that would make us like pets, and we simply are not that!
No, He is the God that not only created all things, but He is the very essence of His creation. He dwells within His creation and He is the life that causes trees to grow, stars to shine, and air to breath. He is all and in all.
The very Person that causes this life, the very Person that gave air to breath, lives inside of us once we believe. He comes to dwell in such a way that causes us to be springs, vessels, reservoirs of living water. This living water is something that at any second, any hour of the day, in any situation, we can draw from. This is what it means to “never thirst”. We are never in lack of any of the infinite riches that are in Christ.
We just have to learn how to use a bucket to draw from this well.
The Glory of the Church
So, eternal life isn’t just a neat phrase to describe living forever. No, it is the life that is in Jesus Christ, the life that is Jesus Christ. For His life is eternal, for He is eternal. That water has been shared with you and me. We may drink of Him at any moment. We may share and partake of this life as well. Not only for our own needs, but for others as well.
We may share this water that is within us to others. This is the task of the church and this is the glory of the church: to make Christ manifest and expressed by sharing the living water with one another and with those around us. This is at the very heart of the Father, that is, to make Christ known and visible here on earth. It is a very interesting thing to ponder that humans long so much to be in Heaven while God longs to be made known and visible on earth (I won’t go any further with that thought, I’ll leave that one to you 🙂 )
So think about that next time you see or hear the phrase “eternal life.” Don’t think only of living forever, but think of Him!