My friend died on August 29, 2020. He’s the one I told you about in my previous piece, Reflecting on Seeds.
I shared a message some years back about death and dying. It included a description of how a body decays after death. Relax, I’ll spare you the gory details. But it was fascinating to understand that without the sustaining force of life a physical body quickly disintegrates into base elements. Sound familiar?
“For you are dust, and you will return to dust” (Genesis 3:19).
The American Heritage Dictionary defines disintegrate as “to become reduced to components, fragments, or particles.” In other words, we’re talking that bodily-decay-into-elemental-components thing.
The dictionary also defines disintegrate as “to lose cohesion or unity.” Yes, losing cohesion and unity certainly applies to the individual particles that make up our physical bodies, but it strongly speaks to the separation of the soul from the body at death. From my perspective, the first disintegration of death is our inner being “losing cohesion and unity” with our outer being.
But why do we have to die?
Because of the effects of sin on humanity. Let’s go back to Genesis 3, shall we? In the words of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”
When Adam and Eve sinned, they separated themselves from God. Humanity chose to live without Him. Except we can’t. When electricity is turned off, the bulb goes dark. The same is true for us, only it takes us a while for our bodies to finally “go dark.” Even if we’re blessed with a long life, we still dim.
When we finally separate from our bodies at death, we can either live with God or live without Him forever. It’s our choice.
Pretty stark reality, huh?
If we make the right choice, it makes all the difference in the eternal world. And what’s fascinating is this – for a believer, sin doesn’t affect them post-death (Romans 6:7)!
Sin and its effect on the believer’s spiritual life dies before the body does (Romans 6:2). It is neutralized through Jesus taking the penalty for our sin. But sin still affects our physical body (Romans 7:24). When we’re finally freed from this sin-burned body in death, we’re away from the body, but at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
“But wait!” as the infomercial goes, “There’s more!”
We’re not going to live in a disembodied state forever! For now, “away from the body, at home with the Lord” is just a stopping point, a temporary condition. We’re going to get new digs, a new body, unaffected by sin.
What would such a body be like? I had a revelation this week that I would like to share with you, if I may.
Autumn is approaching. My wife and I both love this time of year. For me, it’s the wash of colors across a landscape. The hues are subtle at first, but then their brightness intensifies until each tree seems to burst into joyful celebration of a summer well-spent.
But have you ever considered why leaves turn color in the Fall? I kind of knew, but I wanted the official explanation. You know…science. So here is what Mr. Scientist told me.
Leaves are green because of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps them make food (carbs, sugars and starch) from sunlight and stuff (carbon dioxide and water).
“But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor” ~Read article here
And comes the dawn! The spectacular color was there all the time. It was just waiting to be revealed!
As I shared, we all carry the effects of sin in our bodies. The power of that sin is to produce death, not life. It stains our physical being (aging, 1 Peter 1:24) and our inner person (renewing, Romans 12:1), but not the spirit (re-created).
In a sense, we are all stained “green” by the power of sin. Our true colors, who we are in our God-designed fullness, is obscured by sin.
When born-again people die, the last remaining drops of sin break down, so to speak, and we are revealed to God and all His spiritual creation for the uniquely colored beings He created each of us to be.
My friend was a very colorful guy! How much more so now?
“But wait! There’s more!”
God’s plan is to restore His creation as it was in Eden, perfect, and unstained by sin. The only way for a person to live in a perfect physical world is in a perfect physical body.
What will it look like?
Imagine a world of leaves “ungreened” by chlorophyll. Oh, the colors, vibrantly washed across the canvas of the world’s landscape! The fullness of the divine palette on display before a stunned universe!
Now imagine a world where each person is revealed in their true colors with the beauty and grace God carefully chose and infused into them.
When Jesus returns and the resurrection kicks in, we’ll be fitted with bodies “ungreened” and unobscured by sin. Truly, we will all be people of color.
Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 15 and it connects with my previous seed illustration.
“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” You fool (meaning an unreasoning person)! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. But God gives it a body as he wants, and to each of the seeds its own body” (1 Corinthians 15:35-38).
Paul then goes on to reveal that our resurrected bodies will be vastly different and immensely superior to our current bodies.
“So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
What a glorious splash of personality hues, tints of talents, and pigments of traits displayed through uncorruptible bodies side by side for God’s glory and in His service.
But that’s only for those who embrace Jesus, the pioneer and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and only for those who will make it through the point of disintegration into eternal life.
My colorful friend is absent, but not gone. As with every saint who has preceded him, he is seeing things in a measure and intensity no human eye can comprehend. Like me, he is waiting to be clothed in a new body, fresh from the resurrection factory floor.
Now, whenever I look at leaves in the Fall, I think of my own approaching Autumn (which I hope is a looooong way off!) and I smile. What color I will be?
What color will you be?
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts