“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” —1 Corinthians 3:11-15
If you believe in an afterlife, one of your most alive questions is, “What goes with me when I die?” That question properly thought through, is the question. The answer is both obvious and a little disconcerting: you go with you when you die. What you are and who you are is all that goes. That’s it. You plus nothing begins your eternal journey.
The proper next question is, “In what ways are you ready for that unending extension of you being you forever?” Unless you are completely satisfied with who you are, that question should trouble you. If it doesn’t, I am deeply concerned for you and you already know some of what I will next be saying. In either case, we should all consider more deeply what now follows.
- In what ways are we now “frozen” or locked into parts of ourselves for eternity? That question opens the door to what salvation decisions mean in this life as a portal into the next one. Simply, but profoundly stated, salvation is a condition of being, where eternal and positive change is extended to us. It is the gift or promise of our Creator to us for choosing to enter His life rather than choosing to stay within our own. That, my friends, is an eternally heavy reality. It is not complicated, but its level of reality is beyond mere words. Ultimately, we are stuck in ourselves, forever compartmentalized in “me,” or we are stuck in God and in the process of being absorbed and infused with His being. We will never be Him, but He will reveal His uniqueness in His created uniqueness in each of us. Selah.
- What skill sets will we take with us? The answer, once again, is simple: the ones only suited for God’s presence. All our nonsense, all our skilled, self-centered tricks or manipulated techniques that worked on earth won’t work there. We will either be completely stripped and made naked from them or we will be obliged to spend eternity with all those frozen within themselves. Our godly virtues, skill, and character sets alone will pass through death. This earth-life is our training gymnasium for the real game of eternal life with God as the extension of Himself in the co-management of His unfathomable creation! (Romans 8:17-22) Heaven is neither a spook-show of saints flying around in white sheets, nor a retirement village for inert and shiftless airheads. It is an apprentice’s workshop for eternally maturing people taking on the nature of their Master.
- So will we carry within our lives and hearts those we love and are in relationship with here? Yes, if we are to believe Jesus’ promises to everyone He encountered here on earth. Re-read John 17 yourself (among hundreds of other confirming scriptures). We take with us our earthly relationships and all the host of those we have yet to meet. Relationship investments pass though death.
So, what can we say? Not enough. This level of truth and reality dwarfs mere words. All we can do is praise the God who set it all in motion. And that truly is… THE BOTTOM LINE.