Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 31, 2019
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
What does it mean to have a spiritual body? For much of my life, I assumed life after death, the hope of heaven, meant we would leave behind all that is physical and material and head off into a disembodied, idyllic state. Perhaps you can relate? And while this view is widespread in many circles of the church, it is not, in fact, Biblical. In fact, it has far more in common with Gnosticism, which taught that the spiritual is “good” and the physical is “bad” and therefore our spirits long to be set free from the shell of the physical body.
While our physical bodies do decay and suffer the effects of a broken and fallen world, our future hope is still for a physical, albeit wildly transformed and renewed, resurrection. Much confusion therefore abounds around Paul’s use of the word “spiritual.” For Paul, “physical vs. spiritual” was not the same thing as “material vs. non-material.” Instead, he’s speaking to the source of life. It is in the same vein as the words from Acts 17:28, which remind us that it is in God that “we live and move and have our being.”
A spiritual body is a body that is fully animated and sustained by the life giving Spirit of God. A physical body is one that is cut off from its life source, living yet not alive. I think of C.S. Lewis’s image in the Great Divorce of the “unsubstantial ghosts” who are but a vapor compared to the radiant substance of the heavenly kingdom. In Lewis’s imagination, we right here and now are living the grey life of shadows, while what awaits us is more solid, stable, and substantial than anything we could possibly imagine. Perhaps this gives us some insight in to Jesus passing through a locked door in John 20:19. Rather than assuming Jesus was a ghostly being, perhaps it is the locked door that is ghostly compared to the radiant substance of his resurrected body!
Christians for centuries have affirmed their faith in the words of the Nicene Creed, which in the same breath affirms “the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” This is the heart of our Christian hope- a vibrant belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead, rooted in the victory of God won through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Father, thank you that you promise to heal the world and renew your creation and give us life eternal with you in your kingdom. Amen.
How does a robust hope in the bodily resurrection reframe and reorient your present reality?
The heart of our Christian hope is in the bodily resurrection of the dead, rooted in the victory of God won through the death and resurrection of Jesus. #spiritualbody #wisdomhunters #Jesus
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