If I was to inform you that you had ten minutes left to live, what would be important to you? If you were going to die in ten minutes what would go through your mind? How would the things you have done in the past and the things you are doing now impact the way you might react to this shock news?
On hearing of your imminent death would the ‘church things’ you have been doing bring you comfort or distress, would they reassure you and give you peace, or would they cause you to doubt or even resent God?
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him. See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 2:28 – 3:3 NRSV)
Here John encourages us to abide, remain, or stand, in Jesus; to hold onto him, his Word, and the promise he makes to us in his Word. The only way we will have confidence and not be put to shame when he is revealed is to abide in him, hold up as truth what he gives to us as truth, and hang onto the things he puts in place for us now, so we might be with him forever. We know when we have been doing these righteous things we can boldly say we are children of God; brothers and sisters of Christ our Saviour.
If you found you had ten minutes to live, would you trust in the things Jesus has done for you, or would you guilt yourself over the things you think you should have done?
Today we celebrate All Saints day. We remember those who have gone before us and are now continually celebrating around the throne of God together with the angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven. God calls us to see that we too are a part of that company. We have been rescued and although Christ has not been revealed to us, face to face, and we still live and struggle in the reality of this world, we are called to see our reality is also unseen and that we too are gathered around Christ as a result of abide in him through the means he has given us.
This is why John says to us, ‘See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.’ If you found you were to die in ten minutes, God calls you to trust in what he has given you and who he has made you to be, not what you might do in the minutes remaining.
In fact we do already know just who Jesus is! Jesus reveals himself to us in his Word, he continually sends the Holy Spirit to direct us and open our eyes to him when we hear the Word. So through faith we know of his hidden presence with us in this world; our view into the unseen realm is the Word of God.
But there are many who do not know Jesus or his Word. They live by sight and not by faith. They don’t know God’s Word thinking they don’t need to hear, read or study it, and subsequently don’t see the hidden reality of Jesus. So they neither abide in him, trust him, nor do they know him, the Holy Spirit, or our Heavenly Father.
Instead of trusting Jesus, when death approaches, some think they might be able to broker a deal might with God, saying, “If you save me God, I’ll do whatever you want, I’ll be a good person for the rest of my life.” Maybe you too have been tempted to trust in yourself and try this kind of approach?
But we know an even greater deal has already been signed and sealed by God. If you trust in Jesus Christ, if you abide in him, if you receive him through the Word of God, then he, the Word made flesh saves you for free. Just say you did find out you were going to die in ten minutes. God calls you to trust in this free salvation, which cost God the Son his life on the cross.
Christ is hidden by the curtain of eternity and we have access through the Word of God to see Christ behind that curtain and trust that we are God’s Children. The same can be said of us too; Christ is hidden in you so when Jesus returns you will finally see who you are with your very own eyes.
The Word of God will be needed no longer because everyone will see him in his glory. Faith and hope will be no longer required because the object of your faith and hope, Jesus Christ, will stand in front of us and wipe away all your tears and your sinful nature – which is the cause of all our tears. And having the veil of your sinful nature wiped away and removed once and for all, you will we see your true self.
We will see exactly who we are in Christ, having abided in his Word and trusted in his means of salvation, through the work of the Holy Spirit. This will be the final result of our entering eternal life at baptism through Christ’s promise in his Word. When Jesus is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
But while we are here we live in two worlds; the seen world, and the invisible world only seen through faith. As we wait on God the Father to take us home, we place our hope in his Son, Jesus Christ, and the things he gives us in his church. And these things let us look through the curtain of eternity as Christ comes to us in his Word and in the bread and wine.
Take a glimpse at yourself through the glasses of God’s Word. See that in you — lives Christ; see the holiness of God hidden behind the veil of sinful flesh. And as we come here into this place each time, see through the curtain of eternity into the timeless realm outside of space. See yourself around the throne of God with all those who have been purified by abiding in the things Jesus calls us to trust.
Just like those saints who are now made holy by the righteousness Jesus gave them, place your hope in these righteous acts too, in which Jesus calls you to abide. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
If you found out you were going to die in ten minutes, trust in the fact you have already died in your baptism and in ten minutes you would pass through the curtain of eternity into life and celebration forever with God and all the saints. Amen.