When I had my upper endoscopy, I knew I was going to be put out, and I knew it was coming, but even with that, the only way I knew I was out was when I woke up. So the weird thing is that I was out, but I did not experience being out. Others (the doctor and the nurses) experienced me being out.
I think death and eternal life are like that. We do not experience our own death. We experience our own dying. Others (those who are alive) experience our death. The only way we know that we were dead is when we wake from death.
And just like when I wake from sleep, the dreams that were so real, and which made perfect sense, are suddenly absurd to me. , and the only way I know that the dream was absurd is because I am no longer dreaming and the rules in the dream do not apply in my waking life. The only way I know that I was dreaming is when I wake from dreaming, and being awake, I can see how absurd the dream really was, even though it made perfect sense in the dream.
Again, I think death and eternal life are like that. When we find ourselves waking from death, we will recall our lives and suddenly be confronted with how absurd it all was. Not absurd in the existential sense that life is meaningless and absurd, but absurd in the sense that all the things we think are so important, and all the values and goals and presuppositions we hold so dear, will suddenly appear to be what they are — fevered delusions of a world that was temporary and fleeting, like a dream.
While sleeping, the dream tells us that it is real and anything else must be fantasy. When we wake, we realize that the dream was not real at all. Not only was it unreal, it was wrong about most things. It never really happened and what did happen was our imagination of it. In this world, the world tells us that what we see and experience and touch is reality, and anything beyond or above this reality is a fantasy. But one day we will wake from death to see that this life was the dream, and the new life — whatever and wherever that is — is the reality.
The message of the early Church was that we do not have to wait until after we die to live in the new life. We can live in it now. We can choose to continue to live in the dream world that tells us it is real, but which often seems more like a nightmare than a dream, or we can live in the real world, which is the next world, while still living within this dreamworld.
Because we are in the dream, but we are not the dream, and we are not of the dream. We are a new creation. The things of this dream world are passing away. And when we wake from it, it will fade, like a dream, and we will know what reality really is.
“Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.”