Temporary and Eternal
Our life here is temporary.
Is that a problem?
Is that a result of the fall into sin?
Or was it indeed what God had in mind?
Everything Passes On
The fact that we are temporary, we meet in all kinds of things. We cannot hold on to anything, time takes everything along. Beautiful things and ugly things, everything passes by our view, nothing is forever.
Also what we do is only for a limited time. In our existence there is much repetition. What you finish today, you can do again tomorrow. What is clean will become dirty again. The bread must be placed in the cupboard again. Endlessly tiresome?
And then the developments. What is new today, is very shortly old already. It happens at an ever-quicker speed. The newest technologies in the media-world are here. But they will not be new for long, soon they will be replaced by yet newer techniques.
This is how it goes with viewpoints as well. What is important now, and asks for everyone’s attention and approval, can in three months be proclaimed the other way around. Just look at politics, nationally and internationally.
And what about you? Today you have a job, tomorrow you are perhaps on the street. Is it understandable that this makes people upset? That they lose hope? That many take on an attitude of “whatever, whatever”? Why would you get all worked up about it? The next generation will do things quite differently and will look at things differently. What you build, they will take down. What you reject, they will look for.
Is there still something to do or to experience that makes sense? People unhitch, they do not keep up with all these changes. People get ‘off the bus’. It makes no sense for them.
Is this a result of the fall into sin?
No, not directly.
From the very beginning, God had created Adam in time. And he had given him various duties in creation, things that would present themselves time and again. In creation, the Creator has placed an endless repetition (if you want to call it that). The change of day and night is from before the fall into sin. And with that comes going to sleep and waking up again. Looking for food that is processed in the body. The work in the garden, the changing splendour of it, the temporary blooming. See, all that was very good.
God has put eternity into man’s heart, says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11. We were created with the knowledge of time, to live per day, per month, per year.
And, just like we are, so all creation is placed in time. A time which is temporary, which continually ends. And see, that was very good.
Why is that good? Because that is how the distinction is expressed between the Creator and creation. The Creator is eternal, that means: he has life in himself. We are creatures, we receive life, in time.
In this way it was clear from the beginning that the meaning of life is not to be found in creation itself. The purpose of our life is to be found in the relationship with the eternal God.
The relationship with him, that will be forever, without any competition.
Without any doubt, this is in the whole world a lesson that remains, something which did not come after the fall into sin, but through the fall into sin has grown much in intensity.
Now Everything Moves by Double-Quick
Sinful man lives a shorter life. Creation has become a threat. Death shows up in many ways. Adam became 500+ years, others even reached 900 years. On average, 10% of that is left now.
That intensifies the cycle of temporary goals and results. That which was already temporary, is now being tainted by illness and decay, by failure, crime, and setbacks in various forms. Everything you do or make creates side-effects which can be detrimental. What is good for one, is bad for another.
Is this then reason to lose heart?
No. It is even more reason to search for the purpose of life in relation to God. In the midst of all that staggers, he is reliably standing firm. More than ever. He came in his Son into this affected life, he wants to be here. He makes his eternal covenant here and now.
God has subjected the creation to futility, we read in Romans 8:20. To, in the darkness of our powerlessness, let all the light shine on the Lamb who carries away the sins of the world.
Whoever believes in him, has eternal life. Other life, which lasts forever, is not to be found.
This is very good.
The evil, which God never wanted, is therefore subservient to the good: if everything moves by double-quick, it becomes all the more clear what stays. In mortal lives, God begins an eternal covenant.
Ask for Wisdom
When you see this, you also understand the enormous temptation of our society.
We live satisfied lives, there is much to do and to get. That is not necessarily wrong. But the big problem is this: so much is being introduced to us that a human life can be completely filled ten times over with temporary matters. You are being invited to be filled up with special offers, expenditures, and programs, which all pass by in time. What, being invited? It is being forced upon you! If you are not informed, if you do not go along, then you cannot talk about it with others. And what does that make you? In this manner the masses are being played, are taken possession of, are being distracted, to later on stand there with empty hands.
Much wisdom is needed here, and you can ask God to give it to you.
You cannot ignore the world. Temporary matters may be important. You must know what is going on. How do you manage this, so that the eternal matters will remain on top: in attention and in time spent?
We can help each other in this. And let us start then by in church differentiating between temporary and eternal matters. For as Christians we do not automatically do it better (than the people in the world). Most tension can arise around all kinds of subjects of temporary importance, which do not deserve the attention (they get) but should be of a subservient nature. Let us just plainly state that out loud, when the time is there. To subsequently mention things from the Word which lasts for ever.
The Eternal in Time
With this we do not say that everything which is temporary, should be unimportant. Of course not. Everything God has created is good and valuable. Your life here on earth, your marriage, your family, your work, you name it: all of this is temporary, yet it contains a definite interest.
The question is: Do you want to walk in this time with the eternal God?
If you separate the daily tasks from God, then you are guaranteed to lose sight of the purpose of everything. It will be the key to life, with the temporary things, everything you do and choose for, to integrate these in your relationship with the Lord of your life. In Proverbs 3:6 it says: “In all your ways acknowledge him”. Include him in your plans and ways, ask for his opinion, let his will be meaningful to you. To walk with God has something in it that goes “from heart to heart”. In prayer you open up your life to him. In hearing your prayer, he comes to you. This is not a Christian sauce; it is what is eternal in time. This is what remains, when all else disappears: the relationship with God and all that you did with him and for him. Through death these works will follow you (purified and all), and they show who you are.
God lets you see the purpose of life.
Take the time to differentiate.
Time for your eternity.