Knowing, Growing and Loving Jesus Christ
“This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.” John 17:3 (HCSB)
How is knowing God synonymous with eternal life? For those raised in the church or Christian surroundings we have heard, as long as we can remember, that heaven is our eternal home. We come to Christ with an expectation of eternal life when we die. Absent from the body, present with the Lord, to paraphrase Paul’s writings to the Philippians. But Jesus did not define eternal life in this way.
It may come as a surprise to some that Jesus did not define eternal life as something only to be gained when we die. He did not equate it with a heavenly reward.
In fact, Jesus did not equate eternal life as some kind of endless extension of the present life with its hurts and hang-ups.
More Than Time, a Relationship
Jesus defined eternal life in terms of a relationship, not a length of time. He defined it as knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ, the One sent to us. If eternal life is defined in terms of a relationship, then we are not merely awaiting for Christ’s return or our death. Far from passivity, eternal life is an active, engaging relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Savior.
As we come to God’s Word, our expectation should be a greater relational knowledge of God. This is how Paul expressed it, “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). Such knowledge is gained over time by walking with God.
Think about this kind of relational knowledge in the context of marriage (if you are single think about a couple you admire for their love and the longevity of their relationship). When a couple says “I do” on their wedding day, it is because they are in love and committed to one another. They love each other because of what they know of each other. It is new, fresh, and exciting.
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