Confessing Christ Bloggers
May 21

Written by: gfackre
5/21/2009 2:47 PM

And just what is "life"? The Greek terms zoe and psyche are used throughout the New Testament, the former tending to be associated with our physical life, and the latter our life with God, though the former can sometimes include the latter (see Theological Dictionary of the Bible) Our focus is the person's life with God in its ultimate sense, the final act in the creedal drama. A thread of New Testament allusions to personal life everlasting speak of "seeing" and "knowing" God "face to face" ( 1 Cor 13:12; Rev. 22:4). But what poor words we have in speaking of this encounter. How different and deeper is it than our conventional seeings and knowings. Hints of it do exist in our Christian life, yes, for eternal/everlasting life begins in time, even as it comes to flower in eternity. As we see and know Jesus, God is among us as the Son...in his promised real presence in Word and sacrament..in ad hoc encounters of eternal life. But all this is seeing and knowing "in a mirror dimly." What surprises we have in store!

Probing another biblical metaphor, theologians have spoken about the unspeakable in terms of "light"--seeing it, radiated by it (Rev. 21:23-25; 22:50), the "beatific vision" of the Catholic tradition. Yet even Protestant Charles Hodge speaks this way of the "radiancy of glory....the incomparable blessedness of heaven shall arise from the vision of God. This vision is beatific." The Orthodox tradition has its own depiction, life eternal as participation in the very being of God as theosis, deification. All this stirs the heart while it boggles the mind.

A refrain in the theologians of the church, and giving it body (literally), is the assurance that we have to do with Jesus Christ himself in his "glorified humanity." What better finale than to meet our Lord, not now in the end as judge of "the quick and the dead" but as 'friend" (John 15:14-15), even as we bow the knee to the "King of King and Lord of lords"? Life everlasting is life together with Jesus Christ!--life together in the body, dimly seen and anticipated in eucharistic communion with the risen Lord, yet now in everlasting life in the "spiritual body"with the eyes of heavenly sight entranced by the one known to us on earth by the eyes of faith as the body and blood given in the bread and wine. Again, we are thinking the unthinkable about what is to be, or seeing infinitude from finite perspective, not through transparencies but translucencies.

Copyright ©2004 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co

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