How do you imagine heaven? For many of us, it’s hard to shake that idea of sitting on a cloud, maybe wearing a halo, quite possibly getting a bit bored.
This is not the bible’s view of heaven! The great story of Scripture is that, at the end of time, heaven and earth come together – ‘the new heavens and earth’ (Revelation 21:1) – and the whole creation is renewed. It is not empty sky with a few ghosts wandering around – thankfully! Quite the reverse: a beautiful, busy place, restored to the perfection it was always meant to have.
And in this passage St Paul talks about what that means for us. What will we be like in heaven? The good news is that we aren’t ghosts! We still have bodies – that is the first conclusion of verses 42-44. Professor NT Wright has written extensively on this in scholarly circles, and his compelling conclusion is that this little Greek word ‘soma’ means ‘body’ in the sense that we mean it.
But it’s not quite the body we have now. All its imperfections and weaknesses are healed – which for many of us is very good news indeed. Our heavenly body will be glorious, powerful and immortal (vv42-43).
It will also be spiritual. The true goal of our existence is to enjoy spiritual life with God forever. And we will have a body to match that. The indwelling Spirit of God we enjoy in part now as Christians will so infuse us that we will be fully spiritually alive. The life-giving Spirit of Christ will impart that glorious, eternal life to us: hence this extraordinary (and barely known) promise in v48: ‘as is the heavenly man (i.e. Jesus), so also those who are of heaven (his followers)’.
I doubt many of us think of ourselves as being ‘of heaven’. But, amazingly, that is what we are. And this is what we will become.
As we go through our earthly day today – perhaps feeling decidedly ‘earthly’ – take heart. You are of heaven, and the spiritual life you experience in part will one day be yours in all its fullness. That is where we are all heading… and, with this in mind, let’s pray in faith for that life-giving Spirit of Christ to fill us again today.