Do you want to live forever?

13 Dec

The alarm clock went off one morning. Again. My brain swirled for a while. What day is it? What am I supposed to be doing? Slowly the brain neurons start firing. That’s right: exercise. Message to body: GET OUT OF BED. Message from body: NO THANKS, I’VE DONE THIS ALL BEFORE. My body lies there in a sort of silent war with my brain – more sleep or exercise? Meanwhile, on the radio, the news headline catches my attention: would you like to live for 150 years?

I don’t know about you but in a moment like that, 150 years of the worries of this world and the pragmatic duties of life doesn’t seem all that appealing to me. Eventually my brain beat the body and I went out for some exercise but at least I had something good to think about: would I take a pill if it meant I could double my life expectancy? Would I take a pill that would let me live forever?

There is an obvious trade-off in a proposition like this: quality versus quantity. A ‘life extension pill’ certainly gives you a greater quantity of life. However, there are down sides. You know how Grandma says her hip hurts? Well, imagine if that went on for an extra 50 years; or, imagine a family gathering where there are up to 7 generations of the family who have to be gathered. Or, instead of a 45 year working life, try 110 years. Ouch.

Even if the ‘life extension pill’ let you live forever, there is no pill to make the world around you perfect. The longer you live, the greater the exposure you have to the pain and suffering that comes along with living in this world.

I’m sure that many have heard of this idea before and found much hope in it. However, in reality, even if the pill could give eternal life, in comparison to Jesus it is still a very weak offer.

Jesus offers both quality and quantity of life. In John 10:10, Jesus, speaking as the Good Shepherd, taught the reason for his coming: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jesus offers his followers life to the full – full in every sense. Full in the sense that he offers an abundant quantity of life. All who believe in Jesus will have eternal life but those who don’t, won’t (John 3:36). Jesus also means a full life in the sense of quality. All who follow Jesus will know God’s abundant love. This love is most clearly demonstrated in Christ’s great sacrifice for us at the cross (Rom 5:8). Finally, Jesus does not envision this full life to begin after your death in this world. Rather, full life begins when you are re-born as a Christian. Despite the suffering that come as a result of standing up for Christ in this world, Jesus expected that living as a Christian in this world would involve incredibly gain, particularly in terms of relationship with other Christians and God (Mark 10:30). Jesus offers full life in every sense.

So, a pill such as this one presents us with more an ethical dilemma than a theological one. Theologically, life is only full when it is lived in relationship with the Creator through Jesus. Ethically, would we take the pill so as to live longer to serve the ever and increasingly lost humanity? The apostle Paul put this ethical dilemma well: ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21). It would be far better not to take the pill and sooner be with the Lord in Heaven. However, while ever there is a potential for fruitful labour in Christ then living here is a necessary and sacrificial response to Jesus. Paul was torn. I am too. What about you?

A great way to share your hope with friends is to latch on to current issues in the news. Why not ask a friend what they think of the ‘live-longer pill’ and be ready to give an answer for your hope!

Jason Veitch





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