The other day I was driving my two youngest daughters Ella (4) and Sydney (3) to the zoo. Ella brought up the fact that Adam and Eve died and "that’s not good!"
She paused for a beat and then brought up her Grandpa (my Dad), who died a few years ago. "I wonder what his new body will look like!" she said.
Sydney thought it about it for a bit and said, "Maybe pink."
It was a rather funny little episode with my daughters in the car, and didn’t take more than 10 seconds, but I thought about how two things they had gotten right in that short time, that many people don’t get right.
Death is an enemy.
It is "not good" as Ella said. I heard something on NPR the other day where a reporter was interviewing a Burmese monk living near LA about the Buddhist perspective on the recent cyclone that has killed tens of thousands of people. His response was basically (in typical Buddhist fashion): we just have to accept it. These things happen, they aren’t necessarily evil or bad. Might be the result of bad karma, but who really knows? These things happen. Basically the response was "death is no big deal, just like everything else."
But Ella (and Christian theology) disagrees about death, and thus about the cyclone: "That’s not good!"
The answer is resurrection.
God’s answer to humanity’s biggest enemy (death) is the resurrection from the dead, seen first in Jesus and eventually coming to everyone who is in Christ. The answer to the "not-good-ness" of death is that because of Jesus, God will raise us from death with new bodies to inhabit a renewed world.
Many Christians think God’s answer is an unphysical "life after death", but this is just another way of saying the Buddhist answer: it’s a euphemism for getting used to being dead. God intends not for us to get used to death, but to finally defeat it, to bring us back to life after the sleep of death into a fully physically embodied existence on a real earth. Jesus’ resurrection body had interesting properties that give us hints that our
resurrection bodies will be different from the ones we have now, so wondering what Grandpa’s new body would look like is a natural question to follow from that.
I’m not sure how orthodox Sydney’s conjecture was ("Maybe pink!"), but it’s fun to see them pondering these things.
I really find hope in the simplicity of childlike understanding.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about healing in relation to what is going on in Florida, and I wonder how much pressure we put on ourselves regarding healing? There is only one person who can heal, and that person is Jesus. Doctors, counselors, and the like, TREAT sickness, disease, and wounds but only God is able to HEAL, as in make our bodies/minds/spirits as new creation. Jesus is the only one who knows our grief, felt our suffering, and tasted death, yet overcame them. And he is the only one who can bring new creation to our bodies/minds/spirits. And for reasons I don’t quite understand, he chooses those who call him, ‘Lord’ to accomplish this. Occasionally, I get the sense from some religious leaders that we must ‘grit our teeth in faith’ in order for God to approve us for healing, or to heal through us. What I wonder is whether we need only to believe that he is the only one able to resurrect, bring new life, to situations and then stand in that place with an attitude of thankfulness?
Ella and Sydney, what do you think?
Benjamin Sternke says
I’ve heard people say that if you can’t explain a theological concept to an 8-year-old child, you don’t actually understand it yet yourself.
Explaining the things of God (theology) to my children has been infinitely more difficult (and humbling) than preaching to adults.
Adam Bennett says
Awesome post, Ben! Thanks for sharing. I’m amazed by how much hope the concept of the resurrection can inspire. Just reflecting on the fact that we have (permanent)victory over death and that he has set us “free” (forever and ever) seems to make the trials of this life seem so trivial.