What if there was something more precious than life? Something more precious than this life that we know. What if life after this life is more real, grander than what we could imagine and eternal? There are people who believe that, or they say they believe it, but does that belief make a difference in how they live?
What if there was some life after this life that depended on how we live this life? The “popular” image conjured up by the notion of life after death these days is the Jihadist blowing up infidels and himself for 1000 virgins in paradise. What if that life after life depends entirely on how we love other people, the kindness that we show, the sacrifice of our own interests for the interests of others?
What if the Gospel of Jesus is fact?
It is said that the devil is the father of all lies. Would it not be just such a creature to entice young, viral, desperately poor and desperately empty men with visions of virgins, paradise and eternal life. Does it not make sense that the very jealousies, hatreds and anger these desperate men feel is the trigger to direct the violence that courses through their veins in desolate, barren places in the Middle East where there is no hope in this life? On the other hand, would not that same vile and cunning creature entice others on the other side of the world, living in plenty, inundated with images, worldly enticements and busyness that fill dawn to dusk and in between so that they hardly think of life or death or life after death?
Jesus said it is more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Jesus said that the greatest law is to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Everything that he said, the parables that he spoke, point to life after death that is dependent on letting go, sacrificing, loving. Jesus said:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matt. 13-44-16
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matt. 19:16-30
What if the Kingdom of God is planted in the soil of our existing life and only sprouts into the living, growing glorious tree it is meant to be in life after this life?
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. ” John 12:24-25