Do This and You Will Live - Keep Your Heart Warm
About fifteen years ago, in 2004, I read a book by a famous inventor and scientist, Ray Kurzweil, “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.” It’s a very thick book with a lot statics and data to prove his argument, but the gist of the book is that by around 2025-2030, we will be able to have eternal life through the merging of our biology with the amazing achievements of "GNR" (genetics, nanotechnology and robotics).
That means we will be able to cure every disease and fix every biological problem. It might sound like a joke to expect this to happen so soon, but nobody dared to discount his prediction because he has built up enough credential and credibility to be regarded as the authority in his field.
There’s one problem. He is an atheist. In his book, he also predicted that religion will become obsolete by that time because he believes religions are invented by people only because people are afraid of death. The bad news is, I won’t have a job by then!
I disagree with him on this point because if we do end up living forever, death becomes a choice. When my father was in coma for over a month, the doctor told me that our current medicine can prolong his life almost indefinitely, but his brain was damaged beyond repair. Even in his case, death was a choice. A choice he made in his living will along with the surviving family members.
So, here’s my disagreement with Kurzweil. When medicine is able to guarantee eternal life, death becomes a choice. People will have to choose euthanasia to leave this world. Then they would still need religion to make that decision to make sure it’s appropriate spiritually and theologically.
Kurzweil failed to understand that religion is not about the quantity of life, but the quality of life. The quality of life goes beyond the physical needs. Hang on to this thought, we will come back to it.
Anyway, I love science. If science can provide eternal life, I will take it. If that means that I will lose my job to see people live forever, I will never complain. I always keep an open mind, even though I doubt this would happen. I don’t want him to be wrong, I’m just curious how it will manifest.
Now we are in 2019, if you can hang in there for another 6 or 10 years, you might never die according to this forecast, and you will live to see the game changing scientific miracle. So, please hang in there. It’s only about a decade or less away.
Ever since I read that book, I mentioned this prediction to many friends from different walks of life. I thought people would be as excite as I was hearing this. However, the most frequent question I got in return is, “who wants to live forever?” I had never thought of that. In fact, it’s a good question. Who wants to live forever?
The older I become the less I want to live forever. When you realize that life is not a bed of roses. It takes some patience, perseverance, and persistence to maintain the physical, social, emotional, and spiritual quality of life. Who wants to live forever like this?
The keyword is “like this.” Just as in my father’s case, the doctors could keep him forever, but his brain is permanently damage. So, again the question is, “Who wants to live forever like this?”
That brought me to study the eternal life offered by Jesus Christ deeper. I used to gloss over it thinking it’s just something everyone wants. Maybe the first century Jewish scholars used “eternal life” with a different meaning. It’s a matter of definition. I dug into the lexicons and theological dictionaries, and most importantly, the Bible itself.
Here’s what I’ve discovered. According to the Bible, the eternal life is not about the quantity of life, but about the quality of life. The eternal life is also used by the Jews to mean the life on the other side—the eternal life to be spent with the eternal God. It’s not about how long it is, it’s about how lavish it is.
Today’s scripture lesson starts with a lawyer asking, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 25). Now, we must read this verse with their definition of eternal life, which is not about the quantity of life but the quality of life.
Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
Jesus said, “do this, and you will live.” Live what? Live the eternal quality of life. This quality is hidden only in these two commandments, love God and love people, nothing more and nothing less.
All Christians know this and thought it’s simple. However, the older you grow, the more you realize it’s not that simple. The more your review it, the deeper and richer it becomes. Love God and love people, nothing more and nothing less, in it is hidden the quality of life, known as the eternal life.
The question is how to live it. Jesus told the famous story of the Good Samaritans to illustrate what it is like to love your neighbor.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.” (vv. 30-32).
Priest and Levites are those who knows this commandment. They are the figures of faith in the society, but they did’t have fruit. Remember, faith without fruit is futile. This Smartian, a foreigner that the Jews despised, went out of his way to help this wounded man.
“But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.” (v. 33).
The key word here is moved with pity. That’s the difference. The Priest and the Levite had a frozen heart, but this Samaritan had compassion. So, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. The quality of life lies in the heart—the heart that loves God and the heart that loves people. Don’t let your heart be frozen.
How do you keep your heart warm? Have a harmonious mindset. Have a sense of oneness. “Love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t mean love your neighbor as you love yourself but regard your neighbor as part of you—part of yourself. That’s how compassion comes; that how he was moved with pity.
As John Donn wrote, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” In this case, never ask who is wounded down there, it is you wounded down there, or it is part of yourself wounded down there. That’s where the deepest compassion comes from.
The story continues like this:
“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
He was not only compassionate but also generous. He didn’t care who that man was, whether he was a Jew or a gentile. He saw him not just a fellow human being, but part of himself robbed and beat up. You won’t care whatever the cost is to cure yourself, would you? That was how he acted. He was spending his time, energy, and money as if he was spending it on himself.
Then Jesus asked:
“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (vv. 36-37).
The whole purpose of this story is about eternal life, which again is not about the quantity of life but the quality of life. Even though we enter the eternity after we die, we can still enjoy the eternal life at this very moment because eternity means from eternal past to eternal future, so it includes the present moment.
How do we enjoy that quality of life in this sea of suffering? It’s through a heart of harmony, a heart that sees all humanity as one, a heart that sees the entire universe as one, a heart that is not frozen. In fact, according to Paul, we need to keep our heart boiling hot.
“Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Ro 12:11).
The word ardent is translated from a Greek word that means “boiling hot.” It means “be enthusiastic!” The word “enthusiastic” is a combination of two Latin words, “en” which means “in,” “theos” which means God. So, enthusiasm means you are in God.
A warm heart, a passionate heart, a boiling hot heart, a compassionate heart is a heart of eternal life. That’s the quality that transcend quantity of life. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise!”
A decade from now, we may or may not receive the promise of eternal life from science, but as Christians, we already have the eternal quality of life in our heart. I trust that science will be able to prolong our life more and more as time comes in an artificial way, but our heart is warmed by being in God. The substitutes will never satisfy us.
Let’s keep our hearts warm because that’s the indicator of having the eternal life! Amen!