We are approaching the end of this letter by John, one of the first followers of Jesus, and he wants to make his purpose even clearer. We have struggled with him over what it means to be an authentic Christian, deeply live in the sacrificial love  of Christ, and tackled the dicotomy of sin in the believer’s life. He has encouraged us to make the positive choice of life through Christ and now he reaches the beginning of his conclusion:

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours. 1 John 5:13-15 (The Message)

In this age of materialism and nay saying over hard spiritual questions of life the temptation simply to think anything ‘spiritual’ is an illusion is ever present. The easy path is to treat eternity as an irrelevance but those who believe in Christ have a reality to assure them of their place in it. Eternal life is the goal of those who believe in Jesus but it isn’t simply something that we wait for without signs or experience that affirms this. ‘Bold and free in his presence’ requires that we have an active relationship with God through prayer and praising. When we practice our Christianity in worship as well as works we experience the presence of Almighty God with such a positive impact on our lives! So, for John, the choice to be made is clear, we are to live in the reality that others may consider illusion because it is the best thing for us. Accepting the gift of eternal life, given freely by the grace of God, gives the believer a view of life beyond the material and empowered by the spiritual.

Part of the joy of life eternal, experienced today, is the knowledge that, when we pray, God hears us. Prayer life is an important part of the Christian walk and is engaged in in so many different ways. For some the book of prayers that others have written is their inspiration as they pray, for others the shared liturgy of shared prayer, for others the inner reflection led by images and those for whom a chat with God over a cuppa suffices. The importance of the reality of eternal life is, no matter how we pray, we have the assurance that God hears us and meets us at the point of our need.

Listening God, thank you that I can be assured that, when I pray, you hear me. Let the experience of boldness and freedom in your presence increase in my prayer life. As I share life’s needs with you let me be sure that your heart is for the best and the answers I receive will always bless. Amen.