Romans 8:11 (NIV)
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
I don’t often write about theological concepts for I am not an academic theologian and cannot make definitive statements. Today I want to introduce a concept and encourage the reader to investigate further. I have been reading about what theologians say about resurrection. There is a myth that has been widely circulated that says that as followers of Jesus we do not need to concern ourselves with our bodies or any of the things of this world for one day Jesus will return, yank us out of these evil and broken bodies on this evil and polluted planet and take us far away from it all.
But what if there is continuity between what we have done in this world and the world to come?# Romans 8:11 makes it clear that it is our mortal bodies which will be given life just as Jesus’ mortal body was raised from the dead. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 says that some of what we build in this life will survive beyond the “Day of the Resurrection” and some will not.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Some time ago I had a dream in which I could see beyond the exterior of people.* In this dream I could see people walking about in a church building and I could see an inner core of their being. The inner core was made of gold. Some had a very slender rod of gold at their centre. Others had a thicker rod. These rods represented the work that each individual had done to build upon the foundation of Jesus. Some had done more and some had done less. The golden rod in each person was capable of going through fire and surviving. This helped me to understand how it might be that as we live out our lives here on earth there are things that contribute to who we are as beings before God and there are things that do not contribute. A friend of mine speaks of kindnesses shown to other human beings versus watching four hours of sit-coms on television. It seems to both of us that one of these would contribute to what will survive a fire while one would not.
These are difficult concepts which require more thought. For the reader who would like to investigate these things further I recommend the book Surprised by Hope.#
#NT Wright expands upon this theme in his theological writings. See Wright, N.T. (2008). Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
*I do not claim that a dream such as this has any truth value but simply represents how my mind is trying to process a difficult concept. I explain the dream here in the hope that it may also help others to wrestle with these concepts.