Thursday, January 8, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 4

Day 4 Made to Last Forever

Yesterday we read that when we are adopted as God’s child; we join his community—the eternal community. And that means that part of God’s gift to us is eternal life. What is eternal life and why were we made to last forever?

In order to answer those questions, we’re going to spend a little time understanding what it means for God to have made man (male and female) in their image. Yes, we said their–since God (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) said “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (See Genesis 1:26-27.)

What does it mean for man to be made in God’s image? What does it mean for man to have received the Breath of Life from God—and become a living soul?

Basically, being made in the image of God means that God intended that we thrive in community, that we live in harmony and unity, and that we join them in the eternal community. When we accept adoption as his children, the Father gives us eternal life as part of our inheritance. We say “part” because eternal life is something we begin now, while we are still on earth. But it is also something that we will get the rest of later in heaven, after our days on earth are over.

Many different ideas about eternity are floating around out there. For those who do not believe in God, eternity just doesn’t exist. When this life is over, there’s nothing else. We see the evidence of this belief all around us.

  • Moral absolutes of right and wrong have given way to moral relativism—what I think is right is right for me; you are free to believe whatever you want. Any behavior can be rationalized away—if you look at it from a certain perspective.

  • Restraint of our immediate desires in order to achieve a more important future desire—the ability to delay gratification—is all but non-existent! We want what we want when we want it—and we want it NOW! The future is uncertain, at best. We should only concern ourselves with the present—and live it up while we can! The current outrageous levels of lack of commitment and personal debt attest to the seriousness of this lack of restraint.

  • Personal responsibility for providing sufficient support for our families has given way to The Entitlement Mentality—that the government or the church or the schools or the wealthy or somebody else owes me a certain lifestyle. I no longer have to live within my means—I deserve to have just as much as the next person.

  • The incredible work ethic on which our great country was founded—and which those who continue to seek refuge in this country still display, has given way to an attitude of doing the least possible work for the most possible return. Corporate and white collar crime and identity theft are on the rise and cost our economy billions of dollars every year.

  • Instead of our word being our bond, we look for loopholes through which to escape accountability. You just don’t seem to be able to trust anyone anymore. Lawsuits are often the first resort, especially if there is a “deep pocket” corporation we can blame for our problem, instead of working to resolve our differences fairly.

Whew! That’s quite a list. Sadly, these attitudes have begun to creep into the very fabric of our society. They are threatening to become the accepted norm. We even find them in the church.

These attitudes can only thrive when people don’t understand that they bear the image of God. That we are living souls—souls that will continue to exist after our bodies are gone. That we were made to live in community—God’s covenant community, the church. Eternal life begins for us when we are born again into God’s family. Each day we are living in two worlds—the physical, mortal life on earth, and the spiritual, eternal life that will continue forever.

What we do today has eternal consequences.

And that is why it is so urgent that we share God’s invitation with those around us. Forever is a long time to miss out on. And that’s exactly what will happen for those who refuse God’s offer. They will miss out on heaven—and spend eternity without God in hell.

People who don’t understand God or his covenant tend to believe that God sends people to hell. Actually, people choose to go to hell when they reject the offer of heaven. Remember, God gave us free will in order for us to choose how we will spend our eternity.

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 1:1 through 2:11 again (you will notice by now that I'm linking to a different translation each day from BibleGateway!). While you’re reading, think about John’s descriptions of love.

Keep Breathing!

When you invite God to share your day today, thank him for making you a living soul—meant to last forever. Thank him for sharing eternity with you each day. Ask him to help you restrain your short-term, earthly desires in favor of your long-term, eternal inheritance.

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