The Life Immortal

[Col. 3:1]---' If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.'

In thinking of immortality, we are too much inclined to put the first emphasis on length instead of on quality. We seek the assurance that life will be projected on a line that runs into the far future instead of seeking now the higher levels of life, where the assurance of immortality will come unsought. Men ask very wistfully if there be another life at the far end of this life; and then Life turns to the questioner and asks him to live now the life immortal, and offers him the priceless reality as a present attainment.

Jesus' conception of immortality was a qualitative thing. He did not look upon it merely in terms of duration, the never-ending extention of life, but saw it primarily as a quality. And its quality depended upon character and relationships. ' This is eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' That is an immortality which does not begin with death, but with faith. And the moment we begin to live with God as our center, God mirrored and understood in Christ; when we have begun to find the power and the joy and the sense of a kind of infinite capacity within us which faith brings, then we shall feel that we have discovered a sort of life which is the only life that is worth perpetuating forever.

It is profoundly true that we are haunted by an ideal life. It is in our blood and never will be still. This material world of ours does not offer an understanding of our own being, nor of our life. We may be very diligent in acquiring possessions, and still go through life unsatisfied. The material world does not account for the powers we possess: the powers of body and mind and spirit. It cannot account for our aspirations or our highest impulses. It cannot explain even those simple relationships of daily life, our friendships and our affections---those relationships which make our home and our neighborhood. In the midst of the commonplaces of daily life we become aware that we have standards of moral value which transcend the commonplace. Why should a man sometimes ' lay down his life for his friend'? Why does a mother sometimes sacrifice herself for her children? Here are eternal values in the midst of our temporal life. Here are immortal impulses in the midst of the things which ' perish with the using.' Continually we are being startled by the Infinite; and every moment of such insight teaches us that the world we are living in is not essentially a physical world, and that this higher life is not temporal but eternal.

We seek to know our world; but only a limited part of the world we live in consents to register itself on our physical sense-organs. ' The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.' To know our world we must test the eternal and unseen realities; and this test is made by our living. If we wait for knowledge before making the great adventure of living the life immortal, we shall miss that adventure. If we think it is to be deferred untill we come to another world, we shall fail to understand this present world. Immortality stands before us with its supreme challenge, saying, ' If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.'

In the search for the assurance of immortality, men have often sought afar that which can be discovered near at hand. They seek evidence of another world which shall take the place of this world, and of an endless life to open at the far end of earthly life. They repeat, through the long generations, the ancient question, ' If a man die, shall he live again?' Thus they assume the reality of death, and postpone immortality to a shadowy future. How much there is, of human belief, which uses, as its foundation, the assumption that our immortal spirits are dependent on our mortal bodies! St. Paul pointed out the folly of that assumption, and reversed the emphasis. The spirit builds the body, and it shall build anew according to its needs. When a sower goes forth to sow his grain, he does not expect to recover from the ground the seed he has scattered. Rather does he go forth in the time of harvest to gather that which the miracle of life has created anew. He forgets the seed which was dissolved in the ground and rejoices in the grain which has grown in the light of heaven.

The greatest proof of the immortality of Christ is the power with which it operated in the time that followed that first Easter. Years after the Apostle John, who travelled far and wide among the disciples of the risen Christ, observed the moral and spiritual power which was associated with their central faith, the faith in immortality. He said, ' Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.' Human lives were lifted to new levels. Conscious that they were already living the immortal life, these men sought ' those things which are above.' Moral uplift and spiritual power were the consequences of that greatest faith that the human mind can hold, the faith that life may attain immortal quality and thereby be assured of endless duration. It is not the logic but the dynamic of faith that most surely carries conviction. When the messengers of Christ go out to win men to this faith they may go equipped with argument; but better is it to carry to men the challenge,~Are you living, here and now, the life that deserves to last forever?~ Strange it is how the fear of death vanishes when men assert greatly the power of life! When life is lifted to the higher moral and spiritual levels, the conviction of immortality is not difficult to attain.

This is, indeed, an ancient discovery, but it is also very modern. It means having Christ as a living Presence. It means making His will the guide and inspiration of daily living. It means entering into a close and vital comradeship with Him. Such a discovery is always new for it can never grow old. But it means that life is illuminated with a sudden glory and the world is lighted with a glowing radiance. To the newly opened eyes of the spirit, the unseen world becomes visible. To live for the immortal realities means that we are already immortal. This discovery of the Divine Presence does not come searching afar. ' The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.' Yet because God is so vast men have sometimes thought that He could be found only afar; just as they think of the immortal life as hidden in another world.

In Christ. timothy. maranatha