We're living in a time where the fragility of the world is being felt. What seemed like solid foundations are shaking. The question we should be asking is "What do we have under our feet? Is it a rock or is it sand?"
When worldly things become more uncertain, it's important for us to turn our attention onto the certainties that are ours and will always be ours because of our faith in Jesus. And so during this series, I'm just covering a basic Christian certainty that you can hold on to no matter how wild the world gets.
Last Week: "Get hears me"
This week: I have eternal life
Longest Living Person I'd like to show you a picture of the current guiness world record holder for living the longest. This is Jeanne Calment in 1996 celebrating her 121st birthday. She does not look happy about it. She was born, get this in 1875, lived 122 years and passed away in 1997. A year after this photo was taken. Who in here knows the longest living character in the Bible? (Don't say God, you know what I mean)
Methuselah. That's right. the Bible says that he lived 969 years.
Longest Living Tree The longest living tree is also named 'Methusalah' in California when measured by ring count is 4,852 year old.
Longest Living Fish "Hanako" which was a Koi fish who died in 1977 lived 226 years. When that fish died in the 70's he was older than the United States of America. Wow.
Jesus - Eternal Life Did you know that Jesus taught that those who put their faith in him wouldn't just live 80 years, or 100 years, or 1000 years of even a million years, but that we would live forever. "Eternal Life"
John 3:16 I bet most of you in the room know at least one scripture by heart. What scripture do you think that is? John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The King James says 'Everlasting life'.
So 'eternal life'. Now what in the world does that mean?
Well one of the things "eternal" speaks of course of 'duration'. Eternal, is a perpetual life. It's a life that has no end. So we live forever. Of course that's something our mind has a hard time grasping. Just like our minds fail to grasp the size of the universe. And how we now know that the universe is 'expanding'. Our mortal brains just think "Ok, it's expanding into what?" - And what's at the end of the universe? A wall? What's behind the wall? - How can it be getting bigger?" That's pretty much how well our brains do with something eternal in duration as well. It literally boggles the mind.
But did you know that eternal life is not just about quantity, it's also about quality. That there's a life that we receive from God as a gift when we put our faith in Jesus, that's not just eternal is duration, it's also a higher level of reality.
So when Jesus comes and says that if you believe in him, you receive eternal life. Now of course, you might say "I'm already alive. I'm breathing, I can move, I can think. I'm already alive." But there are different levels of life.
Broccoli For example, let's look at a picture. (Pic) Now this is a picture of a broccoli. It still has it's little roots in the ground. So here's the question: Does this broccoli have life? Is it alive? Of course. So this plant has life.
Dog Now this is a dog. In this case, this is my new dog Charlie. He's a beagle. He's insane. He eats everything. The other day we gave him some food in a paper bowl and he ate the food and the bowl. Now does this dog have life? Is he alive? Of course. So this dog has life.
Human Now think about yourself. You are a human. Do you have life? Not talking spiritual yet, just purely physical. Do you have life? Are you alive? Well if you can hear this sentence, the answer is certainly yes.
Vegetable Life / Animal Life / Human Life There’s vegetable life, then there’s animal life, and then there’s human life. And in each case, they meet the criteria for how we define life: There's growth, there's energy processing, there's the ability to respond to stimulus, etc. Tiny cells that are alive do the same thing.
Consider Plant So let's consider a plant. A plant is alive, it's able to grow, and process energy, and reproduce, and it can even respond to stimulus. For example, plants can grow towards the sun, plants can sense temperature. But there's a lot of things that an animal can do that a plant can't do.
Consider Animal So animals (for the most part) have their 5 senses. So they can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. That's a much higher existence than a plant.
Consider Human And so for how amazing animals are, there are plenty of things a human can do that an animal can't do. For example, Animals don't reason. They can think of course, but to logically weight the pros and cons of something isn't what they do. They can't be introspective. They can't think about what they're thinking about. So they can be angry of course, but they can't ask themselves "Yeah but why am I angry?" - Your dog's not going to do that.
Wake up - Oh my gosh If a vegetable was to wake up one day and have the awareness of an animal, they would say "Oh my gosh!!!! I had no idea!!!" And in the same way if an animal was to wake up one day and have the awareness of a human they would say "Oh my gosh! I had no idea! I had no idea I was such a brute!"
So while all 3 are living, for a human to live like an animal, is a lower level of existence. Or let's say a person suffers a catastrophic brain injury they might enter into what is known as a "Vegetative state". Or someone could insensitively say 'They're a human vegetable'.
And of course many people say that if they ever get to that place, they'd rather die than live at a lower level of existence.
So to live at a level lower than you were created for is a great tragedy. An animal that only has the life of a vegetable is tragic, and a human that only has the life of an animal is also tragic.
And the difference has a lot to do with awareness. So vegetable, animal, human: each one has more understanding of reality.
So Jesus comes and says there's an even higher reality that you can't even perceive because you don't have that level of life. And he offers you the opportunity to experience life at a higher level. A higher level of reality, a higher level of experience.
So to over-simplify, you could say it like this:
What do I mean? Well let's say you have someone who is an atheist. They don't believe in God, they don't believe in the afterlife. Now if you were to go to them and try to explain 'eternal life'. Life that never ends, they would say that's nonsense. They would say if it's not measurable in time and space, then we have no reason to believe it's real.
But the Christ follower has access to a higher level of reality. We understand that time and space as we experience it is just a tiny fraction of reality. We have a sixth sense, in a way, where, though we won't understand anything perfectly this side of heaven, we have access to seeing and perceiving things outside of the earthly realm.
Can choose to live at lower level Now, can you live at a lower existence if you choose to? OF COURSE. You're absolutely capable of that. And a human can absolutely live at the level where we're just following our primal instincts - where you live like an animal. Think the lives of the Jeffery Epsteins of the world who ruin their life and hundreds of other lives because they're completely driven by the primal instinct to procreate. And in the same way, the Christian is absolutely capable of living like any other human being. By ignoring the things of God and focusing completely on the world around them. And that choice is always yours.
And so the reason that I think this is worth talking about right now is because human reasoning is kind of panicking right now. Is everything blown way out of proportion in my opinion? TOTALLY. Just for an earthly perspective, the challenges we face right now are pretty minor if you look at the last 2000 years. But still, there are a number of things that right now we're kinda thinking 'Huh. Wonder how that's all gonna play out. We'll just have to wait and see.' But it's a great opportunity for you to make sure that you're seeing the world with what I can an 'eternal mindset'. That you of course see what's happening in the world, but at the same time you see a reality that is outside of this reality. If we train ourselves to see the world through an eternal mindset, your experience of the world will be drastically different.
Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Having an eternal mindset:
So I have 4 points that you can write down. These are things having an eternal mindset will do.
This should be obvious. That if you see this physical reality as just a tip of the iceberg. That there's this whole other reality that is so much higher than what we can see with our own eyes. If you really, truly, deeply believe that, then the things of this world will be less important and spiritual things will be MORE important.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19)
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Jim Elliot - who was a missionary in Ecuador who was killed for his faith famously said:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. (Jim Elliot)
He was a Martyr. How is it that people can risk their life for the sake of Christ? The can do it because they have an eternal mindset, and that shapes what's truly important to them.
Show Alone - Temporary Shelter I wonder how many of you have seen the show 'Alone' well it's a reality show where these survivalists are dropped off in the middle of nowhere and the person who lasts the longest wins, basically. Well often times the first thing they do is they build a temporary shelter. Because they need to get out of the elements and stay safe from predators. And so they work hard on their temporary shelter, but not nearly as hard as they work on their long-term shelter. Once they decide where they're wanting to set up camp for real, that's WAY more important than their temporary shelter.
Did you know that that body you're in right now is your temporary shelter? Some of you are thinking "Oh thank God because this thing is BREAKING DOWN QUICK."
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, (talking about our bodies) we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, (2 Corinthians 5:2)
because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:3)
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:4)
Current Bodies - Tent / Heavenly Dwelling That is some majorly dense scripture that I do not have time to go in to, but just notice this contrast. Our current bodies are just a tent. Just a temporary shelter. But God himself is creating a heavily dwelling for us.
And if you truly wake up to that reality, then the things of this earth are important, but it's not (and I use this term on purpose) it's not the end of the world.
Funerals One thing that I have the honor of doing here at the church is caring for people and helping people who have lost a loved one. So I try to help them through the grieving process and help them with the logistical realities of having someone die, who should we call, what are we supposed to do with the body, stuff like that.
Some people lose loved one and have peace And one thing that I've noticed is this: For some Christians, to lose a loved one is the most unspeakably horrible thing that could possibly ever happen. It completely destroys them. They are in absolute hopeless despair. And I'm not here judging, I'm just making an observation. And then there are other Christians who lose a loved one and they're sad, and they experience grief, and sorrow, but it absolutely does NOT destroy them. They grieve but they don't despair, does that make sense. They're sad but they're not without hope.
Now that's the difference? It's hard to say obviously. And I would never tell people how they "ought" to handle loss, but I DO believe there is a connection with having an eternal mindset and how you handle suffering. Let's imagine someone in your family died and you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're in heaven, full of life and love and peace and joy, in the presence of Jesus. Would that have any impact on how you experience their death? You bet.
Grandmimi Heaven Book Pastor Cindi's dad, when he lost his wife of (how many years) maybe 60 years. He loses his wife and of course he grieves and of course he experiences sorrow, but he also discovers this book on heaven. And he reads it, and he dives into it, and he talks to his friends about it, and he gives his friends a copy of the book when someone they love dies. And what he was doing there was he was developing his 'eternal mindset' and that caused him to keep his own suffering in perspective.
Mayfly Let's imagine you are a 'Mayfly', which is a type of fly. The lifespan of a Mayfly is about 24 hours. About 1 day. Now let's say you're a mayfly and you're flying around and you're not paying attention and you get locked between the door and the screen door of a house. Well that's pretty big deal. I mean your whole life is effectively ruined by someone deciding to close the door. Because that's all you have. Now let's say you're some other kind of small insect, and let's just be silly and say that your kind of insect lives 1 million years. So you have a million years to live on this planet. Now let's say you get locked between the screen door and the door for 24 hours. Not that big of a deal.
Homeless Tent Or I've got another one, let's say your homeless and you've been saving up all year for a tent. And someone steals your tent. That's awful. Now let's say you're a millionaire who bought a tent, but you also have a mansion. And somebody steals your tent. Not that big of a deal.
Point: If you get an eternal mindset. You understand that you live forever. And all pain and suffering is but a momentary affliction, it's not that big of a deal. "Oh no, Biden became president." - Look. You get to live forever in heaven, just chill out. Leave all that spazzy anxiety to the people who don't have an eternal perspective.
This is a Scripture that I read last week that I'd like to share again:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (2 Corinthians 10:3)
Oh man. HELLLOOO 2020. I mean, let's be honest, how carried away did we all get in 2020? I mean, we started fighting just like the world fights.
I think a lot of you know when you do this. Because if you're at all sensitive to the spirit, it feels terrible. You fought with someone about this or that, or had some sort of stupid comment war online and afterwards you feel awful, because you knew that was beneath you. You're right. It is.
Here's what I believe: Having petty squabbles about stupid worldly things proves that you DON'T have an eternal mindset. If the things of God were truly the MOST real to you, then the small interruptions of this world wouldn't matter. So let's say that you have been given the gift of eternal life, you get to live forever in perfect peace and joy and love, where there's no sorrow or fear, or pain. And someone cuts you off in traffic. WHO CARES?! That is LITERALLY NOTHING.
So if we were to go back to the original point about people who lose a loved one and because they have an eternal mindset, experience grief but they don't experience despair. Let's say we have a man named Jim, who is a Christian and Jim loses his wife to cancer. Now let's say that Jim has a non-believing brother who sees all this happen. This brother sees Jim lose his spouse and he sees that Jim is sad, but how is it that Jim still has this peace and calm, and trust about him, and even JOY. Let's say the non-believing brother has had no interest in God for his entire life, well now, all of a sudden when he sees the eternal mindset of his brother, now all of a sudden he wants to talk about God.
If you wish you had more opportunities to share your faith, live with an eternal mindset. People will notice. And people will ask.
And that brings us right to Jesus. How is it that Jesus could experience the absolute worst that life has to offer: Agonizing pain, humiliation, shame, torture, death, how is that he could experience all of that and still come out victorious? It was because Jesus had an eternal mindset. Scripture says he endured the cross because of the joy set before him. Jesus knew that his pain, no matter how horrible, no matter how awful, was just a momentary affliction. And now because of him, you can know that too. That no matter what you're going through, if you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you can enjoy eternal life.