Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Shall be Changed

Have you ever noticed that, in the Bible, when God shows up, He never comes during benevolent sunshine or sweet gentle rain? He appears to Moses as a burning bush, He precedes the Israelites as towers of smoke and flame, and He promises to return as storm and thunder. God, in His natural state, if He can be said to have such a thing, booms and rattles this world with terrible power.

I have become accustomed, as have many, to thinking about God as a loving gentle Jesus, a forgiving shepherd, a humble servant. And He was all of these, of course. But I need to remember that, when His work here was complete, He returned home and resumed His godhead, where He picked up again His power. He promises to return in His full splendor as triumphant warrior, commander in heaven and on earth, no longer meek and mild.

God became man once, but only for a short while. He remained God both before, during, and after that experience. He remains God today and forever: terrible God, marvelous God, earthshaking God. He created men originally destined to share His glory, then redeemed them to assure it. He became like us for a little while so that we could know His real self forever.

We know no reference point for this in our experience. That's why we sometimes get stuck on Jesus' sweetness and go no further. We can understand that part of Him, but that part does not characterize God alone. He says that He is coming back to the sounds of celestial trumpets and thunderous earthquakes in rising blazes and that, in that instant we will be changed. He will not change, we will. He will remain mighty, and we will join Him in His might.

The day that Jesus returns, if my imagination can do any of this justice, will resemble more than anything else a fairy tale or a disaster movie: big and marvelous and terrible. But the end comes out much more than happy. I will not only be saved; I will be changed to glory, a glory I will share with God.

We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. 1Corinthians 15:51-52

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