Children love receiving presents. It is often a joy to give them such things, just to experience the thrill and excitement of being a child once again. They take the present, enthusiastically rip open the wrapping, excited to see what it is. How hard is it though, when they know what they are going to receive, but you hold back from giving it because the time isn’t right? There’s a sense of frustration, of waiting, of losing interest in what is about to be given. The joy seems to disappear when it finally comes. The casually open the wrapping with a sense of knowing, and then casually say thanks when they receive what they had anticipated. It all seems mundane, expected, and lack lustre.
Too often Christians seem to act the same way. They believe in Jesus, but they’re too busy looking to the future when they hope to see God than living in the joy of knowing they have the prize. They go through the motions of being Christian, thinking it is mundane, boring, tiresome. Some even drift from the church in search of other more enticing lures of excitement. They tend to live lives that suggest that after all, there’s time to get one’s life together, God’s not going anywhere.
It’s such a strange notion to John as he writes to the Ephesian church. There is a sense of the immediate, the now, the reality that we are not waiting for something, but that something is present in this moment. God is here. If you believe in Jesus, the truth of God’s love is right now in your heart. The life God promises through Jesus is here, now, in the present, today, in your life. This is not something we are hoping for, it is something God gives right now. If you do not believe in Jesus, then you reject God and his witness of life in Jesus. Eternal life is not something for the future, it is something we have now in the present. Because we have eternity now we have the boldness to seek God’s will and know that he will act accordingly to our prayers.
What a remarkable message. We are not children waiting for the prize, knowing we have it but are yet to receive it. We are God’s children who have the entire prize right now. When we proclaim the name of Jesus we have life, eternal life, and that inspires us to all the hope and joy such certainty can muster. We pray with confidence knowing that in Jesus we too stand, right now, this moment, in the presence of the Father. There is no room for doubt in this. Doubt makes God into a liar, it saps our energy and fails to allow us to see the amazing wonder of already living in eternity with Jesus.
Imagine what the church would look like if suddenly we all realised that in Jesus we have life, eternal life, now in the present. That when we pray according to the Father’s will, he is before us listening and responding. What would our lives be like? How would we view our church life? How would we view our lives in between Sundays? To live life to its fullest knowing that in Jesus we have life and love is contagious. Hope is contagious, especially realised hope. To look someone in the face with the joy of a child and invite them to meet Jesus knowing that they too can have the joy we have, changes lives. John reminds us we are not people in waiting, we are people of eternity living now and calling others to join us in this amazing life.