Eternal life is not a legal transaction, it’s an invitation into a transformational relationship. The invite is for us to participate in Christ’s very own life. We must make the distinction here between the Christian “religion” (ritualistic observation) and actually following Christ.
This is the fourth and final installment on this Christmas version of “Why Jesus?”
In parts one through three, I covered three reasons as follows:
Part One: He came so we could know God as He actually is
Part Two: He came to restore us to who we actually are
Part three: He came to show us what love actually looks like
Now, we’re read to look at the fourth reason Jesus came on Christmas day:
He came so we could participate in His life
While it’s possible that God could’ve forgiven us without Jesus becoming human, He could not have given us His life without becoming human. God, in His essence, is not a human being; God is Spirit (John 4:24). So there’s no way to traverse the dimensional gulf between God and humankind unless God Himself became a human being. And this is the meaning of “Emmanuel, God with us.”
But it gets crazier than that!
Because God placed us in the Divine Human Being—Jesus Christ—we can now participate in the same relationship He has had with His Father from eternity (John 17:23-24). So, it’s not only God with us, but God in us! I like how The Passion Translation (TPT) says this in the two following passages:
20 My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine! (Gal.2:20 TPT *)
27 Living within you is the Christ who floods you with the expectation of glory! This mystery of Christ, embedded within us, becomes a heavenly treasure chest of hope filled with the riches of glory for his people, and God wants everyone to know it! (Col.1:27 TPT *)
One reason I believe that Gandhi lamented over the disparity between Christ and His followers when He said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ,” is because we’ve made salvation more about a legal transaction than a life of divine participation and relational intimacy.
When we just focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for sins, we miss the ultimate reason for why He came. As I said in part two, we see ourselves not much more than pardoned criminals rather than beloved sons and daughters. But we must not even stop there, because sons and daughters should begin to look and act like their heavenly Father.
And we don’t do this by following precepts but by following Christ, and that happens by our being in an abiding experiential relationship with Him. Through this divine interaction, grace empowers us to live a life in sync with our intended design (Heb.8:10-12; Eph.1:4-6; Titus 2:11-12; 1 John 2:27).
I’ve said this in another post: religion is about us inviting God into our life; following Jesus is about Him inviting us into His life. Eternal life is not going to heaven when you die but experientially knowing the Father in Christ:
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 NKJV *)
I really like how The Passion Translation brings it out even clearer:
Eternal life means to know and experience you as the only true God, and to know and experience Jesus Christ, as the Son whom you have sent. (John 17:3 TPT *)
If Jesus only came to show us what God is really like, good for Him but it doesn’t help us. If He stopped with telling us who we really are, we would have a better opinion of ourselves but would forever be a walking contradiction. But He didn’t stop there; He also came so we could participate in His life!
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Pet.1:4 NIV *)
It all starts when we accept the invitation into His life and continues on an endless trajectory of ever-increasing glory (2 Cor.3:18)…here, now, and also in the ages to come. This is eternal life. This is ultimately why Jesus came on Christmas day.
And we can know we’ve entered into this life with God when we begin to manifest the character and nature of His other-centered, self-giving love toward one another:
7 Those who are loved by God, let his love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him. 8 The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 TPT *)
Finally, we can participate because He’s already given us His indwelling Holy Spirit. We are already seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph.2:6). And we access this heavenly reality by faith, which results in our transformed earthly experience.
Beloved, will you accept the invitation to this divine life? If you do, you will begin an adventure that’s out of this world and transcends a lifetime! On that happy note, I’ll end this series with Paul’s prayer for us at the end of his second letter to the Corinthians…
14 Now, may the grace and joyous favor of the Lord Jesus Christ, the unambiguous love of God, and the precious communion that we share in the Holy Spirit be yours continually. Amen! (2 Cor.13:14 TPT)