The Raw Materials of Faith: Body
Reflection 3 New Creation
The first creation story in Genesis 1 tells us that God created humankind in God’s image. Male and female God created them and said it was very good.
It was God’s choice to create us with this body of ours. God created us in these bodies with their gender differences. God created us in these bodies where some of us are athletic, some are not. Some are super bright, some less so. Some are short some tall, some round some long…..black, white……brown eyes, blue eyes……curly hair and straight, blond, black, red…..gay or straight or bi. All in the image of God.
This body is a significant part of who I am, in the image of God. And that’s true for you too.
Some day we must have a conversation about heaven and what we think it might be. There’s not a great deal in our bibles about it, but this I know for sure. If we think we’re then going to leave our body behind to go to heaven, we have misunderstood the Gospel.
Colossians 2:6 says “In Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Jesus is proof that these physical bodies of ours have eternal significance.
When God became a human in Jesus, he took on human identity in a full and complete way, and that identity will never be given up again. And so after the resurrection Jesus was still moving around in a recognisably human body. He even bore the scars he collected before he died. They remained with him.
All of this means that if God intends for us to leave behind our bodies and go to heaven as some disembodied spirit, God would have to do violence to the image of God in us. God would have to undo something of the image of God in us. I don’t exist without this body. That is as true in eternity as it is here and now.
Whatever heaven will be you will inhabit your body.
I have a nine inch scar on my chest from heart surgery nearly ten years ago. It was a profound experience in my life and one that has shaped me deeply. I believe I will bear that scar in heaven because the scars were achieved through a significant life changing and life making event, I will retain that scar because it is part of what made me. Some of your scars are what made you.
But in the world to come our scars will not be a sign of weakness or frailty or ugliness. They will not be able to incapacitate us. They will be signs of victory won through endurance and will be real stories of how God kept us through the struggle of life on earth.
Some of us may perhaps bear scars that will lead to death. But the good news of the Gospel is that we will live and walk again in the power of new life and that we will know these marks on us as proof of God’s love and his ability to keep us even on the walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
We should pay attention to the first incarnation of God, the body of God, in creation because caring for it is caring for God.
We should look after human bodies, our own and the bodies of others because it’s one of the primary means of experiencing God.
And we pay attention to both because both have eternal worth and this body and this earth will one day be our eternal home.
Frederick Buechner writes,
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
The above is part of a church service at Ballycrochan Presbyterian Church (audio HERE). This is Reflection 3 from a 3-parter.