So if we have a new, resurrected Heaven and Earth and a New Jerusalem to live in, what will we look like? What will we do? The last blogs in this series will try to answer those two significant questions.
Actually the question, “what kind of body will we have eternally?” was one of the earliest questions the church wrestled with. First Corinthians is, by most scholars’ agreement, the oldest (first) document written for the New Testament. That means that probably within two or at the most, three decades after Jesus ascended to Heaven, these questions were circulating among believers as the first Christians went to their deaths instead of being “taken up” into the clouds as Jesus was.
What we know from the answer Paul gave and gathering from other biblical sources, in Heaven we will:
- Have a unique, individual identity just as we did on earth. In Luke 24:39, after the resurrection, Jesus said to His followers, “It is I myself.” He remained who He was after the resurrection. We do not become part of the “All” as Buddhism asserts or part of the collective as Gene Roddenberry envisioned.
- Our personal history, actions and identity will endure the transition from old earth to eternal Heaven. Isaiah said “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.'” (Isaiah 66:22) We will continue to be… ourselves!
- This is a long answer to a question that has plagued many… “Will I know my loved one in Heaven?” The answer is YES.
Dave Roeder, a veteran whose face and body were severely burned in an explosion, shared the story of a wife who came to the burn unit of an army hospital when her husband was first brought home from the war. She was told where the ward was… but not which bed her husband was in. Every man in the ward was bandaged and burned beyond easy recognition. Most were unconscious or simply groaning. There were at least twenty beds in the open ward. And yet without being told she walked to the bedside of her husband. And while his face was burned beyond recognition, she knew where her husband lay… because the connection we have is deeper than facial recognition. Much deeper.
We recognize the spirit of the person to whom we relate. And even if faces are different in Heaven we will still “know as we are known.” So will we know Mom or Dad, wife or husband or child in Heaven? Yes, as you knew them on earth.
But “better by far.”
FOR MEMORIZATION: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 ESV
FOR REFLECTION: Next time you look in a mirror at your reflection remember that there will be something about how you look that will last eternally. It will probably not be that thing you like least about yourself… but eternal life is not in a disembodied state. If God loves your face enough to keep it on you forever, maybe you need to love it too!