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[July 31, 2011]
--"Listen, I will tell
you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in
a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the
trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we
will be changed. For this perishable body must put on
imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality."
We all like to know secrets, and one of the Church's best kept
secrets is that these bodies of ours aren't going away.
Instead, they will be changed. And change is an important thing
to consider. The theology of the afterlife has become
convoluted and somewhat un-biblical, but this very Biblical
notion, that we will have eternal bodies, and that our mortal
bodies will be transformed, is significant for several reasons.
First, the preservation and resurrection of the body reminds us
that, even in this life, we are closely connected to God through
our bodies. Our bodies are a part of God's good creation, and
Genesis tells us that we were created in God's image. Further,
as Paul sets out to seal the Church's identity, we are called
Christ's body. Christianity is not just a practice of the mind,
but it involved very real and very physical fidelity. Our
bodies keep us connected to God as we remember that they are of
God's design, and used to do God's work and enjoy the life we
have been given.
But they will be changed, and this is also important. As we
live in the light of Christian hope, we understand that things
are not as they should be, and while these bodies connect us to
God, they also separate us from God. As Paul goes to pains to
point out in Corinthians and elsewhere, these bodies are
imperfect and flawed. But the ones we receive will be perfect
and flawless. The new body, which will be given to us, will
connect us to God in a powerful new way, because it will be
draped in immortality, and it will no longer burden us.
Instead, it shall empower us.
I realize these are somewhat heady concepts, but the purpose of
this sermon series, and this e-votional, is to broaden our
understanding of who we are in relation to God. And who we are
is a people who are a body, and who will be a physical body,
united in the love of Jesus Christ. So do not take this body of
yours lightly, but know that it too is part of God's eternal
Prayer: Holy God, we thank you for the gift of our
bodies. Help us to care for them as your good creation, but also
instill within us the hope in Jesus Christ that our bodies will be
transformed and take on immortality. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
[Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]