Pastoral Care, Chapter 8: Death is a Reality, Not a Threat – Part 6

There is, of course, the other side. If a man die, will he live again? Yes. That is our faith. Jesus tried to make that sound as homelike and as welcoming as He could. Is there a warmer expression as you try to put things so spiritual and big and beautiful into words; is there anything more homelike than saying, “In my Father’s house, there is room for you; and, when you walk through the door, I will meet you. Then you will be where I am in the place prepared for you.”

Where is it? That is not important. It is with Whom.
“No, not cold beneath the grasses,
Not close-walled within a tomb,
Rather in my Father’s mansion,
Living in another room.”
Wrote the poet, Robert Freeman.

“But some will ask,” Paul said, “How are the dead raised up? With what kind of body will they come?” Again, he expresses our curiosity about the mysterious. Paul answers: “God will give us a body as God has chosen.” It is not “where” or “how” or “what.” It is “in” and “by whom” shall we live and “with whom.” Life eternal is life with God who created life. God formed this body for our carriage in this life, and God has prepared another body for our carriage in that life which is beyond this one; so that, when this body perishes, the imperishable is simply put on and we go on. That is why we say in our Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”

It is not that we believe in a physical resurrection but a bodily resurrection. That is to say I will be recognizable in that life as I have been in this. I will know as I am known, I will see as I have been seen. So, when the perishable puts on the imperishable, when the mortal puts on immortality, then we see and know that death is swallowed up in victory. There is no lasting power, there is no lasting sting. “Thanks be to God!” We have the victory – not death.
It is a gift. We do not do anything to deserve eternal life. We cannot earn heave. It is a gift, because it is the nature of the God we love and serve – to be generous and gracious, creating life and giving love. “Neither death, nor life, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from that love,” Paul said. We are conquerors! Ought we not then, in that faith, to live our lives more in celebration than in fear; more in gratitude than in dread; and in hope, because, living or dying, we are with God, and God loves us.

It may not be Easter morning, but we can be the Easter people. With death defeated, we are free to live. We can trust the words of Jesus, “Because I live you shall live also,” and we can sing the words of the hymn:
“Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future;
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives.”

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