Sunday, September 04, 2011

that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life

The summer has come to an end, and so has (hopefully) my vacation from posting to this blog. This has been the longest period of no posting since I started this blog two and a half years ago, and it is high time I began again!  I welcome your continued reading and commenting!

I will share with you the idea that has been most central to me this summer.  It starts with a passage from the letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
(2 Corinthians 5:1-5)
Paul is describing the longing and anticipation that we feel as we look forward to the new bodies we will receive - the process of being made new that God is beginning now and won't bring to completion until the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.  This is not (as N T Wright points out) a disgust or dislike for our physical bodies and a longing for a better, more spiritual and immaterial state of being; rather we look forward to God finishing the work he has begun, for our new "mode of physicality [... that] will be [...] much more real, more firmed up, more bodily, than our present body" (Wright Surprised by Hope 154).  It is difficult for us to imagine, and yet we long for it, don't we?  Perhaps this is the reason the transformation of the butterfly is such a powerful image to us today.

Understanding this, the phrase highlighted above is a beautiful image, something that I pray for and look for and long for.  I pray that it may be ever true.  I look for it and rejoice to see it in myself and others. I long for it, because I see the sinful, mortal nature that is still here, and long for the true life of Christ.  May "what is mortal be swallowed up by life"!

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