“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3
This is an interesting definition of eternal life—knowing God. The definition that is more likely to spring to our minds when we think of eternal life, is heaven. Yet maybe even our definition of heaven isn’t big enough. In the gospels the phrase kingdom of heaven seems to be the same as the kingdom of God, meaning God’s reign is heaven. Heaven is more than just a place. Heaven is where God is in charge, where his will is done. We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). We are praying that earth will become more like heaven. We are praying for God to reign on earth.
Eternal life is not just something we get when we die, it starts the moment we become a Christian. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12). From the moment Jesus comes into our lives we begin to experience eternal life. Jesus described it as water “… but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
As we thirst after God and grow in our love and knowledge of him, we experience more of Jesus. We become more aware of his reign in our own lives and we want his reign to be more evident in others and in the world.