When you think of “eternal life”, what comes to your mind? Are you thinking of a place where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more fear? Are you thinking of a place filled with angels and other majestic beings that are difficult to imagine? Does your mind show you our God in all his majesty with Jesus sitting at his right hand? What do you think of? Though these things may ring true in eternity, Jesus tells us in John chapter 17 verse 3 what we should focus on when we think of eternity in heaven. He says:
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
I believe that heaven is more than just a place, it is more than what we’ll see, it’s more than what we’ll have and more than what we’ll no longer have to deal with. It is a relationship with God that we’ve never experienced this side of heaven. Jesus says that eternal life is that we may know God and that we may know Jesus. Though we may think we know God now, our understanding of him is like looking through a dark, dirty window. We have an idea of who he is, but there is only so much we can know of, and about, him while we live here on earth. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to being closer to God than I’ve ever been, knowing him in a way that I’ve never known, and worshipping him in ways that I can’t even imagine. That is the heaven I’m looking forward to, and that is the heaven I believe Jesus is describing in John 17.
The Bible only gives us hints of what we can look forward to when we die. We have an idea of what both believers will experience and what unbelievers will experience, but as Jesus explains, for those who will have their names written in the book of life, our eternity will mean to “know” him. I don’t think we can truly understand what an amazing reward that will be. I would guess that all other things, or experiences, we will have in heaven will pale in comparison to knowing God. In fact, I’m sure that none of it will matter aside from knowing him. So I would challenge you, if your thoughts on eternal life differ from the one Jesus laid out, I hope you will realign your thinking to what truly matters both in this life and certainly in our eternal life, which is knowing him.