If you took me to the most glorious place on earth, I can promise you this: at some point I will long to leave and go back home.
One of the realities we celebrate when we think about the implications of Jesus’ resurrection is how all things will be made new. Scripture tells us there will one day be a new heavens and a new earth, and there the people of God will have glorified bodies. Perhaps you’ve wondered, as I have, if this means that in the life to come we’ll have the wisdom of the aged, bodies of 21 year olds, the metabolism of 15 year olds, and the energy of children.
It can be fun to try to imagine what our eternal destiny as the children of God will be like—the geography, the city of God, our glorified bodies, and the sweetness of a “New Earth” sun-ripened peach. But we make a mistake if we think of our eternal destiny as something more like a vacation at the beach than our home.
A number of years ago, my parents moved from the midwest to an island on the Atlantic coast. At least once a year my wife and I load the kids into the car and drive out for a week with my folks on the beach—a glorious, relaxing, and funky-smelling magical land of sunburned noses, fresh seafood, playful dolphins, and moonlit beach-walks.
But guess what happens after we’ve been there for a while? We start to feel a hunger for home. For all the beauty, fun, and relaxation the beach has to offer, the place itself cannot capture our hearts in the way home does. Why is this? Because home isn’t just where we keep our things. It is where we experience life. Our friends are there. Our work. Our church. And so also our struggles. Our worries. Our routines.
Home is where we belong. Home is where we see the flaws in our friends and the cracks in our city’s foundation. It is where we wound each other and then consider whether or not to circle back and pursue healing. This side of glory, home is the place where people most clearly see what Paul describes as my corruption, dishonor, and weakness (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). In other words, my home is where people most clearly see me as I really am. Same goes for you.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. These Scriptures don’t talk about the life to come as though it is an extended vacation in a place that is not our home. One of the most glorious implications of the resurrection of Jesus is that those whose lives are joined to him in his death and resurrection will themselves be changed in such a way we will be a perfect match for all the glory the New Heavens and New earth call for. In the life to come, we will be at home.
Just as heaven and earth will be made new—so will we. Not just our bodies, but our hearts and perspectives too. We will not be tourists in God’s eternal glory—but residents.
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Russ Ramsey is a pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church and the author of Struck: One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017), Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative, and Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is a graduate of Taylor University and Covenant Theological Seminary. Follow Russ on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.