The Fullness of Life, May 17.2012

1 John 5:17 
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal [abundant] life.
What does it mean to have eternal life? I added the word abundant to the verse because it was suggested to me this week that abundant is a more accurate translation, that it conveys more clearly the original meaning of the text. 1 John is in many ways a commentary on the Gospel of John. And in the Gospel of John Jesus describes eternal life in this way:

This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. (John 17:3)

That is to say that eternal life is a life grounded in and bounded to God, a life in which we (the believers) know God through Jesus — the one who walked, taught, ate, loved, died and was resurrected among us.

In ancient middle eastern communities there was primary emphasis placed on the quality of life, especially of life in and with God. Jesus who was grounded in the Jewish ancient middle eastern community invited his followers into the fullness of knowing and being known by God through his own life and teaching. He invited them to an experience of abundance. Over the centuries as the early Christ followers became the Early Church and the Greek influence of rationalism and logic became the prevailing notion our understanding of eternal life took on new meanings that reflected a culture that favored longevity or quantity over quality.

How do our current values shape our ideas about God? About what living a life of fullness and abundance looks like? Does our current culture favor an emphasis on the here and now or on what happens when we die? Do we value quality? quantity? or both? And does our faith community reflect the same values or different ones?

May you live into the fullness of the knowledge that God is with you,
that despite our fears and all that we do not know,
we trust that in life and in death we belong to God.