Is God’s message really no different than religious extremists who make promises for the future with deadly consequences if you don’t buy in?
The Greek words “aionios zoen” when translated as “eternal life” doesn’t always best convey what God wants us to know about life. We commonly think that the Bible speaks of “aionios” life in future rather than present terms and unfortunately often in threatening terms. “Aionios” translated as eternal may convey something very different than intended by the writer.
When the Bible talks about “aionios” life in the New Testament, the focus isn’t on some destination in the future but life in the present.
The Greek word “aionios” is used in the present tense (Jn. 3:36, 5:24, 6:47). In other words Scriptures speaks of having life. How can one have something now while living, if such life was meant to convey what we can have in the future after death? The Apostle Paul compares death with words translated as eternal life: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal/aionios life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rm. 6:23). Paul though speaks of still living though put to death by sin (Rm. 7:11). The life being referred to is about currently being dead or alive spiritually.
The Bible speaks more how to pursue a quality not quantity of life.
A possible literal translation of the word eternal from the Greek is age-enduring, so how does one have an age-enduring life worth living? What kind of life will we look back and be glad we strived for such a life? When Jesus was asked directly about having age-enduring life, Jesus simply encouraged loving God and your neighbor in the present (Lk.10:25-28). I can assure you Jesus wasn’t advising criteria to get into Heaven for then Heaven is going to be vacant.
I am convinced God wants to encourage pursuing a life worth living now as opposed to the future and threatening consequences if you don’t believe what you are supposed to.
We know not loving your neighbor as you want to be loved has its own consequences – a legacy of regrets. Jesus also suggested loving God because certain relationships help one to feel secure and inspired. God gives refuge and hope to those who feel hopeless that their life can be of any value due to all the pain they have inflicted on others. Others may not be able to forgive you but your Creator can and will. Some may feel too insignificant to make a difference. God sees the world one individual at a time and believes you have something to offer. God looks out for those most in need.
You may not feel as hopeless.
Maybe no one will read this Post, but I live life only to influence who I can. Even if not overwhelmed with guilt, from time to time we need to know God isn’t always judging but in our corner. We need to be encouraged from time to time when others don’t meet our expectations. Our role-models don’t always live out or give the best advice how to be a better parent, partner, or friend. I need a God who guidance isn’t tainted by their selfishness. It can be comforting to know that when you die there is a better place or that you can be reunited with your loved ones, but God wanted us to know: “….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest” (Jn. 10.10).