1 Corinthians 15:42-44 “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised 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 natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
Revelation 21:1-5 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
I believe in the resurrection of the dead. I believe in the life to come. New heaven and earth. God is going to make everything new. My hope is in this. But I had to come to terms about how much I really, really believe in it. That may sound silly- or maybe unspiritual. Now, I have been a follower of Jesus Christ, more or less, for about 23 years. You would think believing in those things is a given. Yes, I have always believed in them since I came to their understanding. But how I allowed my belief in them to change the way I think and view the world and follow Jesus is really what has been changing.
If you really believe in the resurrection and the life to come, living as Jesus leads us to live becomes a bit easier (at least in the approach to do so). When you really believe in the resurrection and the life to come, how we live now takes on a new light. Now, before I go on, let me say this: I do want to enjoy life now. I believe God intends us to enjoy life. I pray the blessings of God on my family and those around me. I want my children to walk with God and be blessed. I intend to smile and laugh. I intend to live this life to the fullest. (But, of course, my definition of living life to the fullest and my definition of success have changed a bit over the years.)
What I am getting at could be said through the following examples:
When Jesus says, in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”, taking that to heart is easier when I believe in what is to come. My view in what is most important is shifted from now to what is to come, as is, in turn, my view of what I do now as it affects what is to come.
Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” That is hard to reconcile with the way the world functions. It only works because of the resurrection and the life to come. The meek are generally trampled in our world and certainly are not currently inheriting the earth. But we are to be meek.
Jesus said, in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Be a light, no matter the consequence. Stephen, the first martyr, lived this out fully. He didn’t throw any rocks back. He had to really believe in the life to come.
Jesus told those listening to him, Matthew 5:38-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Hard teachings of Jesus are possible, and mostly logically acceptable to you, when you really believe in what is to come. You will willingly begin the hard changes needed to be his disciple.
How can we approach life and live as a follower of Jesus -and do what he asks us to do- in this messed up world, living within a system of fallen-ness that at times seems to “win” and have its way? You must really, really believe in the resurrection and the life to come and put your hope in it. Now, what about the things that happen to us as we live this life? As I wrote earlier, I intend to live this life to the fullest. I also have opinions about matters in the public square. Some of these are formed by my faith, some of them are not consequential to my faith. But as life is happening, I understand that if things do not work out the way I want, or if life actually turns quite bad, or if I lose rights that I currently have under my government, or (insert any number of scenarios), that my hope is not in what I get or can have in this life but in what is to come. I can live according to what my hope lies in no matter the circumstance. I believe through the initial disappointments or grieving or anger or whatever any hypothetical situation may cause, that I will come back to what my hope is really all about. I will try not to let my hope rest on any particular outcome in this life, but in what I believe Jesus is doing and will do while living as he is leading me to live as his disciple. In this, at the end of the day, I find peace in my soul.
Matthew 16:26 “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”