Tuesday, January 03, 2012


I went to a funeral a while back where one of those giving a eulogy said this about the man who had died, "His eternity started today."

I understand it.  I just don't believe it.

No, not like I don't believe in eternity. I just no longer believe it starts when you die.  There is this idea in the church and the Bible that Jesus came to give us eternal life.  This means that when your heart stops pumping blood, your soul can keep on going in the presence of God.  This idea is central to the Biblical narrative.  However, what is not central is the idea that this begins at death.  I think Jesus came to give us LIFE and life to the fullest.  NOT only when one dies.  But TODAY.

Jesus famously said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  I don't think he meant in like 70 years after a long happy life. I think he meant now.

Now that I'm working with Generation ministries at JCC, I spent a lot of time at the Christmas Eve services around the parent check-in area and working in several of the kids ministry rooms as a volunteer.  One of my learnings was just how many people truly come to our church once every 4-6 months and still consider this "their church".   I know this because when checking kids in, there were quite a few people who had no idea how our "new" check in system worked.  The system is 4 months old!

This also happened when we put the new system in.  For months afterwards we were still getting first timers to the system who were not first timers to our church.

No, I don't think going to church is the litmus test for what being a Christ follower is all about.  But I do think that a lot of people are holding out for Jesus to be their Savior at death and missing the point in life.  Most aren't missing church cuz they're engaging Jesus in their days elsewhere passionately and don't need this community of faith.  As I work with students and families, my goal is not to help them get ready for death. It's to challenge and join them in a better way of life that alters the hope they have both in this life and the life to come.

Living like Jesus is not about he afterlife. It's about life.

If our message is that the gospel is a post death reality, then it's no wonder people are not interested in following Jesus.  It's for dead people.  Dallas Willard eloquently said once that, "the gospel is not about getting people to heaven after they die.  It's about getting them there before they do."  I think he's right.

It's time to bring some heaven to earth in us.  Today!


Mike Lyons 2:51 PM  

Brian, I fully agree with your statement that, "I don't think he meant in like 70 years after a long happy life. I think he meant now." It's hard to accept that in the church, though.

I don't really know you. I've never been to your church. Hopefully I can express this without it feeling like it's personal or an attack.

For many of us who are unchurched or simply reject the "churchy" behavior that we see there, church fails to be a place that even remotely resembles the ideals the church presents itself as. We want to imagine that the church is full of Christ-like fellow believers who will help us on the journey, but often the people there abuse Christianity the way the pharisees and teachers of the law abused Judaism in Jesus' day. It's not that we think we "don't need this community of faith." It's that we can't handle it. We're tired of being gossiped about because we don't measure up to someone else's churchy expectations. We're tired of working our hardest to be Christlike only to be criticized by the people we expected to be encouraged by. The church may love me if I sit in my pew and remain disengaged and seemingly accept what I hear, but they seem to reject those who dare question the pat answers, who try to work within the church to better reach our community, or who might just be weird.

It's not that we aren't interested in following Jesus in this life. We want heaven before we die. The problem is, sometimes going to church feels a lot like hell.

Of course, it's not like that in your church or mine, right?


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