Sunday, June 14, 2015

Somethings are Very Hard to Do

It's hard to see outside of your own frame of reference. A book, written in 1884 as a bit of satire on Victorian English culture impressed this idea upon me. The book is called Flatland, and it tells the tale of A Square, and his struggles to bring the truth of the third dimension to his own society, one where only two dimensions are possible. One of the real major points of the book is to help you understand that trying to explain things that people haven't experienced is tricky, and mostly impossible. Gazing into eternity with our current bodies and minds is every bit as tricky as a sphere trying to tell a square what the third dimension is like. Of all the tricky things to grasp, the resurrection of Jesus is at the top. As Christians, we accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as truth, and the implication of that truth is that we too, will share in the same resurrection one day.
Paul addresses how difficult this is to understand in 1 Corinthians 15. It was true then, and it's true now, some people don't believe in the resurrection They don't believe because they don't see how our bodies could get any better after being dead. They paint a sacrilegious picture of the resurrection that has no spiritual element. In reality they don't understand the Gospel, so they mock it instead. Let's increase our understanding by reading the following scripture in 1 Corinthians 15, starting with verse 35 (ESV)
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

We're moving from a physical place, to a spiritual one. It makes sense then, that our physical bodies would have to be replaced with a spiritual one. This spiritual body, if we are to use Jesus as our example, is strange. Apparently, he was able to move quickly, appearing in the middle of a group of people, seemingly at once. One of the crazy things is that even though scripture promises us that there are no more tears or sickness once we get this body, some things linger with us, or else Thomas would not have seen the nail-marks on Jesus' body. It seems as if the pain is taken away, but the work done in our physical bodies was left! It seems that physical things and physical actions and communicate to us spiritual things, and have spiritual consequences. Just as the holes in Jesus' body convinced Thomas of the realness of the resurrection of Christ, the Lord's Supper convinces us of the covenant God has made with us through the sacrifice of his son. This meal is for us, a contract written in Jesus' blood and paid for with his broken body.

When we gather around the table, we gather to hopefully come to a fuller understanding of something that seems impossible to understand in this form of being. Let us take the cup and the loaf together, break it and share, and pray that the day we receive our spiritual body is hastened to us so that we can understand the universe as God sees it.