Image from http://hewillbeback.org/2012/09/in-twinkling-of-eye.html
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. we shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality ” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 ESV).
I am seeing a lot of death and suffering these days. Our church has seen a significant increase in funerals. More and more people have been consumed by cancer and other deadly diseases. And accidents have effected many others. From the very young to the very old tragedy has taken it’s bitter toll. I suspect that to be the case all over the world.
As we have made dramatic advances in disease detection and treatment, and vehicle safety, it seems that disease and tragedy have developed new ways to derail our life plans. While we are not all effected individually, tragedy touches us all in one way or another, and we find ourselves struggling to bring words of peace and comfort to those most personally touched by tragedy. Or if we are personally effected, we may be struggling to find answers or meaning in our suffering.
The text above doesn’t offer us answers. In fact, the Bible in its entirety doesn’t provide us with concrete and satisfying answers to all of our questions. But it does offer hope. Hope that one day the things that trouble us will be forgotten. Hope that our flesh, so prone to disease and corruption, will one day be tossed aside like yesterday’s dirty laundry.
Our bodies are amazing things, and they offer us the opportunities to enjoy a long list of activities. Our bodies are corruptible, though; they will fail. But our bodies do not define us. We weren’t created to be bodies! Rather, we are defined by things about which our bodies have nothing to do.
We are spiritual beings, crafted in the image of a spiritual God. As such we are defined by our spiritual qualities. And while our spiritual qualities are often demonstrated through our bodily actions, we are not our actions. Paul tried to teach us this when he said, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:18, 20 ESV). We are filled with the Holy Spirit, and covered with the blood of Jesus. When God looks at us he doesn’t see our sinful, mortal flesh; He sees our spirit, washed clean in Christ.
One day, the last trumpet will sound. And we will be changed. Whether our physical bodies are alive at the time or not, we will find ourselves clothed in immortality instead of mortality. For those of us who are in Christ, all suffering will have ceased, and we will be with Him and like Him. Whole. Perfected. In the twinkling of an eye.