Tom Anderst
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Does forever matter today? Does anything in the future impact our lives today?

Well we all think about the immediate future. An upcoming exam can cause us to study today. A deadline at work next week results in work this week. A goal in the future, requires some action today to get to it. If we’re saving to buy a house, we work today to earn money to pay for it. If we want to provide for our kids until they grow up, we work today to provide for them. If want to go into a career in the future, we work today to get the training or schooling necessary. If we want to go on a vacation or big trip, we have to save, plan and get all our documents together to ensure we are ready to go when the date for the trip arrives. So the shorter term future of our lives, say 6 months to 5 years from now certainly impacts our life today.

Does the longer term future impact our lives today? Let’s think about life 10 years from now until the end of our lives. 2028 – Where do you think you’ll be? Where would you like to be and what would you hope you’re doing? Some of us will be approaching or are in late stages of life. Some might not be alive. Everyone here has a limited life span on earth. And we never know when we will die. We all have between 1 day and 90 years left to live.

Most people begin to think beyond the end of their lives when they get later in their own life – their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond. We may think about providing for loved ones who will live on. We may think of building a legacy that will benefit others after we are gone. There are stories of those who rose to the top of their field and earned the highest salaries only to discover that deepest fulfillment was not found there. So they move on to something different. They want to spend their remaining life or career on causes they think can make the most difference on that which matters most or with people who matter most to them. So I would argue that almost everyone lives with the short term future in mind. Many live with the longer term future in mind that goes to the end of their lives and beyond.

But what about forever? Should we think longer term than the immediate end of our lives? This brings us to the question about life after death. There seems to be more people today who have concluded that there is no life after death. This may result from the growing disbelief in the existence of God. This shows up in the services held after someone dies. They used to be called funerals or memorial services. Now they are called “celebrations of life.” I agree that it’s important to celebrate and remember the impact a deceased person’s life had on others.

But it’s very interesting to listen to comments people make at these celebrations of life. They may even be made by someone who normally does not believe in life after death. These comments come out when people talk about the deceased and remember some incident. The story is told and maybe people laugh a bit. Then the story ends and there’s that moment of silence as everyone in the conversation realizes there won’t be any more memories to be made with that person. Then someone who earnestly wants to say something comforting says “Well at least he or she is in a better place now.” Or “they’re looking down on us now.” Or “they’re with the stars now.” Or “they’re with the angels.”

Those comments assume there’s some sort of life or existence after death. Or at least they express the hope that this loved one still exists somewhere. So if there is life after death, then maybe forever does become part of our lives. If we continue to exist after death, forever matters today. How do we get ready for forever?

Some faith traditions believe that after death you are reincarnated or sent back into the world as someone or something else based on what you did with your current life. If you lived a bad life, you’d come back in a worse state and a good life would enable you to come back in a better situation. So there’s kind of a cycle or a circle that goes on until you hopefully one day escape it to reach the ultimate life.

But what if the next life or forever promised to be a life that was enormously better than this life? We certainly experience some joyful times. But everyone here has some hardship or trial or problems they deal with; like sickness; brokenness; addictions or loved ones with addictions; mistreatment; injustice; consequences for bad choices; life-altering accidents – you name it and everyone has a story.

But what if the next life promised that those who wronged you and got away with it would actually face justice? What if it was possible to be reunited with people you knew in this life in that next life? What if parents could reconnect with children lost in a miscarriage or still birth or accident or illness? What if you could live in a world where there was no more strife – cheating – lying – jealousy and harm? What if you could experience wholeness free from the limitations of illness, brain injury, body damage and disease? What if you could live forgiven and freed from the long term consequences of bad decisions? What if you would never experience loneliness, isolation or alienation again? What if you could live under a king who ruled with the best interests of the people in mind; a king whose reign would never end; a king who would enable you to pursue and work in the areas of your greatest interest without the frustration and obstacles that accompany any job on earth? What if our purpose during our lives was to offer glimpses of this kind of life to the people around us and share with others the possibility of this life for them?

It sounds too good to be true or possible right? And yet, this forever life is talked about throughout the Bible. This is the life the writers of the New Testament point to. One writer tells of man named Nicodemus who was trying to figure out Jesus. He wanted to know how one could enter this new kingdom Jesus talked about. Finally Jesus said to Him “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That’s forever life. We get it through belief or trust in Jesus. This hope carried Christians in history through times of terrible persecution and suffering. This forever life somehow enabled Jesus to endure the horror of the cross. One writer puts it like this “Let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him (that’s resurrection life after death) endured the cross, despising its shame and is seated at the right hand of God.”

Jesus did not just endure the cross so He could get to His this life after death. He did it so we could get to this life after death. And He did it so we could experience hope and the purpose in this life before our death.

So the claim has been made – Christmas is forever – That there is such a thing as a forever life. If you would like to hear more about it and how it can greatly impact your life today please contact us at church@svbc.ab.ca. Because of Jesus, forever is a reality that you can experience now, in the short term future, in our long term future and forever.

Join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, ‘Jesus, the Light in the Darkness’ on December 24, 2018 at 6:30 pm. We pray you will find out just how Christmas is forever.