What is the difference between someone who is mature in the faith and someone who has just opened his heart to Jesus? When the church teaches about leaders and elders and pastors, is there any substantive difference between those positions and that of a new believer? Is the 90-year-old believer who has been in Christ for 85 years any different than the five-year-old who has just asked Jesus to take his life?
We want to point out the differences, don’t we? After all, there are mature believers and immature believers and that means something. But all it means is that some have had the time or the inclination to receive more of what Christ has already given them. In other words, all of Christ is available to anyone in Christ. Nationality, gender, age—these things make no difference in the spiritual nature of the individual.
I have always enjoyed the teaching of Major Ian Thomas. He said it like this: the Christian life is the process of becoming who you are. Yes, there is growth, but it is growth in understanding the riches in Christ that are already yours. All that you will ever have is yours today in Jesus.
Why? Because you have entered into eternal life. The life that will be yours in the future is yours today. There is much that you and I don’t understand and we will learn much more, but nothing will really change for us. Even when we die, the only change will be that we will become even more of what we already are.
Eternal life brings the past into the present and redeems us as whole people. Eternal life also brings the future into the present and sanctifies us in Christ forever. We belong to Jesus just as much today as we ever will. Our sins are washed away and we are whole.
When you think of your life in Heaven, don’t you think of it as a relief, a rest from the labors and frustrations of today? Haven’t we been taught that life in Heaven will be good, while this life is evil? But what if that was not true? What if this life, the life we have in Christ, is just as good as life in Heaven will be? What if the victory over sin that we long for and expect in Heaven is already ours in Jesus? What if the reconciliation and peace we look toward is already available to us today? This is what eternal life means.
All that you look forward to is already yours. The more you look to Jesus and away from the struggles and distractions of this world, the more you will understand that peace He has already given. The struggles and distractions are the things that will no longer be in the life to come because they are inconsistent with who He is and who you are.
The joy of the Christian life is already ours. The forgiveness, the reconciliation, the acceptance, the love—these are all ours now. We just have to begin to understand who we are and what Jesus has done for us. He has given us eternal life.