Why Eternal Life in the Next Life Is Not Enough

Obtaining an Early Resurrection

What does the onset of an early resurrection feel like? What does it feel like to live in Christ, here and now? What does it feel like to hold time in a new way? What does it feel like to find eternity already pushing into the present?

Life in Christ has a certain feel. It’s not just an idea. It doesn’t just change how I think. Life in Christ goes deeper than this. It’s in my body, my heart, my lungs, my muscles and blood and bones. It glows like a burning coal in my belly. Life in Christ feels like being alive. It feels—in all its ordinary sensitivity, difficulty, and complexity—like what being alive feels like.

What, then, makes life in Christ different from just being alive? Almost nothing. The difference is that, alive in Christ, I stop looking beyond my life for something other than life. I stop looking past my life for something special or mysterious. I stop being blind to the life I’m already living. What Jacob says about scripture is even more true about life: “Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it” (Jacob 4:14). In Christ, I stop desiring what I can’t understand, I stop looking beyond the mark, and, as a result, what is plain and precious (my “plain old life”) is no longer hidden from me.

The difference between being alive and being alive in Christ is like the difference between seeing things in the light and seeing the light that lets me see things. In either case, both the things and the light are the same. But, in the second case, things couldn’t look more different. God is trying to give me the light itself—so plain, so obvious, so ­ordinary—but I’m running around at noonday looking for some special thing in the light, blind to the light. Christ, as the light of the world, is hidden in plain sight.

It’s true that, even when I am blind to Christ, I am already alive and feeling. But, alive in Christ, I finally start to feel what feeling alive feels like. When this happens, I stop trying to think that Christ is real and I feel that he is. A testimony takes root when I feel Christ in my flesh. It takes root when I feel Christ in the same way I feel, without thinking, which direction is up or whether ice is cold. It happens when I feel Christ immediately, viscerally, a notch or two deeper than my mind.

Becoming Alive in Christ

As a practical matter, much of life in Christ boils down to learning this one thing: how to feel, rather than flee, these feelings. All the ­basic things we do in the church—prayer, scripture study, sacrament meeting, visiting teaching, temple ­attendance—are meant to cultivate this sensitivity. Living in Christ, I become sensitive to the feel of life, to the feel of the Spirit, as it passes through my body. This feeling is both familiar and strange. It is both ordinary and divine. As Parley Pratt describes it, Spirit has just this effect. It resurrects my flesh, clears my mind, and opens my senses:

"The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, developes, cultivates and matures all the fine toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It developes beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigour, animation and social feeling. It developes and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being" (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855), 98–99).

Driving for days, I can forget that I’m driving. I can get lost in my head for hours on end, locked in loops of worry and fantasy, until something jars me back into the present and back into the ­driver’s seat. Who was driving the car all that time? Who changed lanes? Who braked? How much of my life have I lived like this, pale and inattentive? How long have I gone without Spirit, dazed and desensitized? Hours? Days? Weeks? Have I mishandled time for years on end? How much of my life has, without Christ, slipped by unlived? How rarely do I manage to see the light?

Open to life and sensitized by Spirit, I stop daydreaming and remember that I’m already alive. I remember to feel that I’m alive. In Christ, I return to the present and discover, in being present, the presence of God. Filled with the Spirit, I get a local dose of Christ’s resurrection.

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Get more thought-provoking insights from Adam S. Miller in An Early Resurrection.

Along with Nephi, "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ," (2 Nephi 25:26) but in all our talking and learning, have we learned how to live in Christ? What does a life in Christ look like—or feel like?

In this thought-provoking exploration of the writings of the Apostle Paul and Book of Mormon prophets, Adam Miller examines what life in Christ looks like. How can we let ourselves and our own desires die so we can be born again to a new life, a full life in Christ, here and now in this mortal life?

Embark with the author on this journey—at once scriptural, philosophical, and literary—and discover one way to share a life with Christ as if he were present today.

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