French atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre wrote that life itself is drained of meaning “when you have lost the illusion of being eternal.”
The illusion of being eternal?
That’ s a very interesting idea, especially coming from Sartre, a hard-core atheist materialist. That is, for him, no God, no transcendence, nothing supernatural existed. Reality is nothing but “atoms and the void.” And, Sartre, too, didn’t believe (and rightly so) in some type of inherently immortal soul existing in us all.
No wonder, then, he talked about the illusion of being eternal. In one sense, he was right—we are not eternal.
But God is, “The eternal God is your refuge” (Deuteronomy 33:27). Not only is God eternal but central to the plan of salvation, central to Christ’s death on the cross, is that if offers us the chance to be eternal, to have eternal life. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).
Think about how passionately God wants us to be eternal. The cross, and the agony of the cross—that’s the demonstration to us, to the world, and to the universe about how badly God wants to bestow upon us the “the gift of God” “which is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). By His atoning death, we have the promise of eternity.
Sartre was right, too. Life is drained of meaning without us being eternal, which is why God offers it, a gift, to all who will accept it.