The Apostles Creed …the resurrection of the body,…
1 Corinthians 15: 51-54
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. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
Most of us actually believe in the immortality of the soul: when we die, our souls – the “real us” – live on in heaven with God. That’s not resurrection. It’s giving up on the world: God can’t save the world, so opts instead to rescue the (relatively few) people who are somehow salvageable.
It’s not Biblical and it’s not Jesus. The Big Story in the Bible is God saving all that has been made. It begins with creation (Genesis) and ends with God “pitching tent” on a resurrected earth (Revelation 21: 1-5a). This is the answer to Jesus’ prayer: “Your Kingdom come; your will be done on earth”.
Getting from the world we humans have made to the place of Life and flourishing that God always intended is a risky, costly business for God! The Bible calls it “salvation”. It’s Christmas and Easter: God taking human flesh in Jesus, and suffering and dying on a cross on our behalf.
“Sin” is the Biblical world for all that is wrong with the world. It means “a world made in opposition to God”; all the “sins” we see and commit are symptoms of this underlying disease. Its deadliest effect is to unleash powers that trap humanity in unbreakable chains, so that despair and death always manage to have the Last Word.
It cannot be repaired or reformed. It needs to die, and God’s world needs to be born in its place. Paul calls it the New Creation, and it happens in Jesus. It’s the Easter process: the old dies in Christ, and the new world is born out of his resurrection.
Resurrection of the body is a promise for us: we will be there to share it! It gives us what we need to commit ourselves to Jesus’ mission of changing the world, whatever the opposition and cost. It is the faith we need to take up our cross and follow him.
Deliver us from the need to survive, Resurrection God, so that we may begin to live Jesus-shaped lives that count for your Kingdom! Amen.
Lawrence Moore is a Mission & Discipleship consultant and member of Worsley Road URC in Salford