Hi everyone, Rob here.
It’s autumn here in New Zealand and the leaves are falling thick and fast. Soon many trees will look stark and bare with little appearance of life in them. This morning I spoke at a chapel service for the old and infirmed at a retirement village here in Hamilton. It was in the hospital part of the village so these were residents who needed full-time care and supervision. Their bodies no longer function well. Some of them looked barely alive. They may not have heard or understood much of what I was saying. But they were still beautiful.
As we sang old and familiar hymns you could sense their hearts lifting and hear their feeble voices rising. As I spoke about the Father’s love, as shown in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, you could see their faces light up as they remembered how God has faithfully loved them, held them and shown grace to them. These old souls have loved much, lost much and seen their world change much, but in Christ they had rest and peace.
As we embrace the new life that Jesus has won for us through his incarnation, death, resurrection and rule it would be good for us to remember that it’s an internal change primarily. Many will promise health, wealth and favourable circumstances but they would be missing the point. God didn’t send his Spirit and his Son to transform our temporary circumstances. He did it to give us life that is eternal. This is not merely life that goes on forever, but life that is of a whole different kind. It is the life of God himself, of heaven itself. It is a whole new way of being that starts with the eyes of our hearts being opened. It is an inside out kind of life.
Does that then impact our lives here and now? Of course! Eternal life has started for us already. We have now been set free to live life on God’s terms. We have been set free to become more like Jesus. We have been set free to live life in all its fullness (John 10:10). We may experience miracles of healing and restoration and I pray that we will see those signs of heaven on earth. But even if we do our bodies will still decay. Loved ones will pass away. Stockmarkets will crash. Economies will stumble. Wars will still happen. The world remains fallen. Satan is still active and angry. Human beings still have free will and still reject the offer of God’s embrace.
Because our hearts have been made new our lives will consist of better choices. This may lead to better health or more money in the bank. It may also lead to poor health as you decide to spend your life among the poor and suffering. It may lead to less money as you choose simple living or a life of mission. It may even lead to estrangement from family and friends as you make choices that make no sense to them. Health, wealth, poverty or otherwise aren’t the point; the state of our hearts is the point.
Jesus has won for us life that is eternal so that when his kingdom comes in all its fullness we will be right at home. For the old folk at that chapel service this life probably doesn’t mean that much to them anymore. They have run the race and their reward is coming. They will receive new bodies in which their new hearts can be fully expressed. Their thoughts won’t turn to the latest smart device or how much is in the bank. Their thoughts will turn to Jesus and they will feel right at home in his abundant, eternal love. May it be so for us too.