Before we proceed to talk about afterlife it is necessary to talk about what happens before and during our present-life that can have an impact on the after. We'll talk about our status before our life, then we'll talk about the spiritual meaning of our life, and finally about an event that we all (more or less) fear: death
So is there anything before we live ?
In John 8,58 Jesus says:
Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.
And in John 16,28 Jesus even goes further :
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.
Colossians 1,17 says about Jesus that:
He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.
Scriptures also say that God sent his Son (Galatians 4,4; 1Jean 4,9). This is enough to understand that Jesus has a huge difference with us: if He came from God, we cannot say the same: where were we before?
Genesis (2,7; 3,19) says that we come from dust, which implies that we did not exist before. Still, the prologue of the Gospel of John (1,14) says that the Word became flesh. Obviously it talks about Jesus-Chrit-Son-of-God who came into flesh, the same flesh than ours. But the same passage (John 1,1-4) begins by saying that:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life
So the Word pre-exists the world, but Jesus, is as any human: born. But they are the same person: this is the first of many paradoxes1! Even if the Gospel of John is more theological, theoretical, than the three others2, Matthew's and Luke’s Gospels express the same idea through the narrative of Jesus’s birth. Being born from a virgin reminds us the difference between Jesus and us: He as the Son of God is pre-existing, we are not.
But in the same time Jesus was made of the same material as us. So it is not because we corporally come from dust that we are different from Jesus. We are different because we have a beginning as tells the Psalm 139:
For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.
My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.
After reading this psalm you could conclude that as humans we have nothing in common with Jesus. But by the way, even if he is the Son of God, Jesus could have pronounced these words: he also was born of a woman (Galatians 4,4). In this paradox, a mystery is revealed, that is to say, a hidden truth about the love of God: He…
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.
The Son of God, became a true human, called Jesus (which however means "the one who saves"), except the fact that he (spiritually) pre-existed to his own birth (as son of God). So when we talk about after-life, as far as we are concerned, we cannot talk about a spiritual « before-life »!
This has at least two important implications:
1/ even if we live an after-life, we will never be able to say that we are eternal nor to claim that we are gods3. A claim that we very often hide by not openly claiming it but that our behavior, our thinking and our motivations can reveal (John 3,19).
2/ it may well be that the after-life is not a notion linked to a time line, i.e. the after of « after-life ». It may not correspond to our perception of time as we conceptualize it in our time-entangled cosmos (reading the book of Revelations makes it also quite clear).
This being said, we share with Jesus that we « have to » live our life.
1 Paradoxes are not contradiction. Maturing in faith implies not only to accept paradoxes, but to meditate on them in order to discern through them the transcendant glory of God
2 Called « synoptics » because they can be put in synopsis, i.e. they have so much in common that they can be put in parallel and we can consider their structure at a glance.
3 We can eventually share in the divine nature (2Peter 1,4): γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως that you may become partners of divine nature. But that doesn’t mean we become gods.