Eternity begins today
“Whoever wants to live with Jesus for eternity has to live together with Him already today.” It sounds simple enough, but what does “with” really mean? The answer is three-fold: in Christ, for Christ, and like Christ. And this not only affects life on earth.
This is the subject the divine service in Nairobi, Kenya, explored on 27 February 2022. It was based on 1 Thessalonians 5: 10, which refers to Jesus Christ “who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him”.
Goal and path: today as then
God wants to lead all human beings into a new creation which is free of evil. Christ is the Redeemer. And He will return to take His bride to Himself. “This is what Paul proclaimed, and this is the proclamation of the Apostles today,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said.
And then Paul told the believers what they would have to do in order to be ready for the return of Christ: “Whoever wants to live with Jesus for eternity has to live together with Him already today.” That means: living in Christ, living for Christ, and living like Christ.
Jesus is the way
To live in Christ means that we believe in Christ, the Chief Apostle made clear.
- Believing in Christ means: I believe He is the Son of God; I believe in His teaching and follow it.
- Believing in Jesus Christ means believing in the testimony, in the teaching of the Apostles. He sent them and told them to “teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you”.
- Faith is more than merely believing something to be true. To believe in Jesus Christ means to trust in Him, to stick to His teaching even if the picture presented by reality is totally different.
There are two aspects to living for Christ the Chief Apostle explained.
- Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ and trust in Him, have a strong desire to be with Christ for all eternity. And that becomes the purpose, the meaning of their life.
- Those who really believe in Jesus Christ love Him and know that they have been called to serve Him: “He has sent me to help others experience the love of God through my words and deeds.”
And to live like Christ means to be reborn out of water and the Spirit. You have to become a new creation in Christ. And more and more you have to become like Christ: have His thoughts, His feelings, and do His will; and love as He loves.
Here and now instead of there and then
However, this does not only apply to those who are alive. The Chief Apostle said that those who have died are not forgotten. “Jesus Christ loves them as He loves us. He will care for them in the beyond.” For Jesus went into the realms of the dead to announce the good news of salvation to those who could not believe in the time of Noah. The first Christians believed that, and this is also our belief: through His sacrifice, Jesus made salvation possible in the beyond too.
“Sometimes people are odd and say: if salvation is possible in the beyond, why should I go to church now?” The Chief Apostle has several answers:
- “Nobody knows when the Lord will return. Make sure you are prepared now. Don’t wait. There is no guarantee that you will have the possibility to be saved in the beyond.”
- “Jesus has given you a chance to be part of the bride of Christ. This is a special grace. We cannot count on it. Don’t wait for the Last Judgement.”
- “Living with Christ on earth is a source of joy and strength, of comfort and peace. It gives you strength and confidence in every situation.”
“Let us live together in Christ today already,” Chief Apostle Schneider said in conclusion. “For soon we will be together with Christ for all eternity.”