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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Today’s Reading | 1 Corinthians 15:35–49
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. (NRSV)
I grew up in a fairly evangelical church environment. So there were many ways in which I always felt inadequate when it came to my spirituality. One of my inadequacies (that I seemed forced to reflect on every time someone else told their own faith story) was that I couldn’t ever remember having a “conversion” experience. Yet being converted—being transformed from one state of being to another—is exactly what Paul is saying takes place for believers.
In Paul’s understanding of the universe, all things have one of two essential natures. Some have the nature of the flesh, which leads to sin, corruption, and death. Others have the nature of the spirit, which leads to holiness, perfection, and eternal life. Paul is telling Christians that we all start out as flesh, but he also offers Christians the hope that we can become spirit, if we are willing to place our lives under the care of Jesus Christ.
I still can’t tell a story about a blinding flash of light or a voice speaking to me to make me feel like my life in the flesh had ended and my life in the spirit had come. Yet I do believe that I have glimpsed brief moments of my life as God intends it to be—in worship or prayer, in fellowship around table with faithful friends, in shared service among God’s people, and even in the ecstatic inspiration of song.
One of Mumford & Sons’ most popular songs is “I Will Wait.” My understanding of it is that it is a reflection on, and little glimpse of, the conversion that Paul urges us toward—both in its meaning, and in the hearing of it. Maybe you will find it to be so for you as well.
God of the Spirit, it is often that I feel weighed down by my own flesh and the ways in which it makes me distant from you. But I praise you for the assurance that, in Jesus Christ, we can be united with you in Spirit. Thank you for the experiences that help me believe this is true. Amen.
Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism
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