What happens when you die? Some people think there’s nothing. Some people think our souls live on. Some people think that the body and the soul live on after we die. But in our current religious climate, people who believe in the resurrection from the dead tend to slip into the second view–that only our souls live on.
We hear a lot of talk about heaven as an ethereal place where angels sit on clouds and souls wander around in some state of disembodied bliss. We forget that part of God’s resurrection package is that not just our souls are saved, but our bodies get remade after death too. Our senses get remade, not negated or destroyed.
Being redeemed is not purely spiritual. Being redeemed is not just about the growth of my soul, but of my whole being, my whole life. Life after death is not just a state of the spirit but also a state of the body. I don’t lose my body and leave it all behind, but I’m given a new body.
“But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?…What you sow does not come to life unless it dies…The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.” [I Corinthians 15:35-42]
This makes a difference for how we live here and now too. You can see this in what Jesus did when he lived on earth. He not only attended to people’s souls by preaching the good news of salvation, he also healed their bodies and met their emotional needs. We too care for people’s physical and emotional needs. We work to reform society, we care for orphans and the poor, we work to educate and heal.
If you’re interested in reading more about this, here’s a link to an interview in Time Magazine with N.T. Wright about his book “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church”: