The hope of life eternal life has always been a key feature of the Christian gospel. It is what we believe and what we proclaim. Our bold and confident language is of course based on our Easter faith, our conviction that Christ has faced death on our behalf and has conquered it, therefore as he has been raised so we too, in turn, may be raised to eternal life.
What exactly do we mean when we talk about the Christian hope of eternal life? I sincerely hope its not clouds and harps as I’m not very good at heights… Our collect gives us a clue in that it prays that we “with the whole creation” may find eternal life.
God created the world, and while it has always slipped away from his original purposes, his actions have always been to redeem and to save and to call it back. We believe that he is a God who became incarnate, who chose to enter into his creation and be part of it, because he cares for it so much.
The great plan of God is not for a lucky few to find themselves whiling away eternity among the clouds, but it is a plan for the renewal of the whole of his creation, putting right all that has gone wrong, and including us as part of the great eternal process. If we think of eternal life as a private gift that we are given for our own personal enjoyment, then we are reducing the promise of Christ to something far less significant than it really is.
God intends to renew the whole creation, and this has already somehow begun in Jesus’ resurrection. God invites us to participate in this eternal mission, because we are not merely saved for our pleasure, but saved for a purpose.
New creation has already started. It began with the resurrection of Jesus, it continues in the mission of his church, and its completion is the sure and certain promise that we cling to.