And Then?

Matthias went to visit his grandfather and happily told him he had graduated from high school. “What do you want to do now, my boy; what are your plans for the future?” he asked him. “I want to study.” “Good idea. And then?” asked the grandpa. “Then I want to have a career.” “Very good. And then?” At that point, Matthias became a bit more thoughtful: “Well, I’ll probably get married and start a family then.” “I think that’s good. And then?” “Well, someday I’ll be retired, and I’d like to enjoy life and travel around the world a lot.” “And then?” Matthias was getting tired of the conversation; this question “And then?” was starting to get on his nerves. But he answered again, “I think then I’ll be like everyone else. I’ll get old and eventually I’ll die.” “Right,” said his grandpa thoughtfully, “but then what?”

Well, what then? Many people believe (and hope) that with death everything will be over. Others believe the reports of near-death experiences. The Bible tells us that man is destined once to die. After that, judgment follows (Hebrews 9:27). It then teaches us that after death, an infinite period of time, eternity, begins, which each person will spend either in hell or in heaven. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, the Bible actually states that God has placed the knowledge of eternity in the heart of every human being. But eternity and infinity are not terms for enlightened, modern-thinking people, are they? Yes, they are – and in fact, we know that they are! We encounter an inkling of infinity in various places as well, for example, when we try to understand the universe. Where does it begin, and where does it end? Since when does it exist? What was there before, and where does it all come from?

The part of the universe known to us is so unimaginably huge that one has stopped calculating in kilometers. The unit of measurement called a “light year” is used, which corresponds to approx. 9.5 trillion kilometers. The sun is 150 million kilometers away from the earth or 8 minutes of a light year. Our Milky Way has a maximum extension of about 100,000 light years. It is, however, only one of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe. In fact, we don’t even know if the universe has an end at all. It also hardly matters since our minds have long since given up at these distances anyway. However, the universe gives us an idea of infinity in the dimension of “space.” Eternity is infinity in the dimension of “time.”

The greatest thing is that the One who created the almost infinite space is not infinitely far away at all! Even though we are much less than a speck of dust in the universe, God loves us with a love that is greater and purer than anything we know and can imagine, even when there is little that is lovable about us. 

The very essence of God is divine love and, likewise, divine holiness. That is the complete opposite of sin in any form. That is why the question “And then what?” is so uncomfortable for us, because sin separates us from communion with God. This applies to this time now, as well as to eternity.

Nevertheless, no one must perish because of his sin, for Jesus bore our sin vicariously on the cross. That was the only viable way to do justice to both God’s love and God’s holiness. Only in this way could He make the way back to God possible for us. 

“And then what?” This question is answered forever only when we find Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to seek Him?

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