There is a circle of thought that says that when one does something in the name of someone else who has passed away the action gives them life. In a sense when we continuously do things in the name of someone who is dead we are giving them everlasting life. Very interesting thought and in sense it’s actually true and we should learn from it.
I admire Catholics for many reasons and one reason is for their memory. I don’t mean they remember your birthday better. What I mean is that they remember the people who have shaped the Church into what it is today. The Saints are celebrated and even have their own feast days to remember them and celebrate their contributions and the things God did in their lives. In one important sense the Saints are very alive in the Catholic Church.
Now everlasting life goes beyond metaphorical truth. It goes beyond the figurative and Ultra-Spiritual. Everlasting life means our life actually continues for the rest of eternity. And it is really us who are alive, not only a memory. Some of the big questions that arise from this concept are; how do we get everlasting life (since I cannot depend on someone to do things in my name to receive this sort of everlasting life)? Where is it (heaven, hell, etc.)? Am I still gonna be me when I get there? And there are many more. These question are all important but there is another question which I do not believe is asked nearly enough: Who am I? Because if it’s really me that’s going to live forever then what exactly is that? The bypassing of this question for so long has lead to terrible misunderstandings about Salvation.
There are a lot of people who think that the ultimate finish line is Justification; accepting Jesus and thus getting a free ride to heaven. This is what I call “bus-ticket theology” (I stole the “bus-ticket” illustration from Mike Devries). We treat heaven like a bus-ticket. We pray a certain prayer and we get our bus ticket. This leads to the sort of Christianity that is essentially waiting for Jesus to come back someday. Since we’re off scott-free there’s really not anything else for us to do except get other people to get a ticket. Now I’ve ranted about this before and if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you probably recognize this sort of language. But there is something deeply wrong with this concept that is troubling. The you that lives forever in heaven is never really dealt with. There’s no movement involved. In fact you don’t ever have to know what about you really makes you you.
Salvation is about a lot more than just going to heaven. It’s about who you are. It’s about asking the question; who am I? and refining that into something you’d actually like to be forever. If you have everlasting life but you are bitter and miserable then there are some scary implications as to what everlasting is going to look like for you. Everlasting life actually means living forever. The you that lives forever should be the you that God created.