In the Apostles' Creed we say "I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." We have looked at some wrong ideas of everlasting life in the sermon on Heaven. Today we focus on the importance of our bodily resurrection. What would a soul do without a body? It is impossible to run or walk, eat or play, hug or make love, or even think and talk, or see and hear and experience anything without a body.
So our view of life after death is not a mere resting or dull survival. Eternal life is in no way less than this life but very much more. Which means that all the joys of this life are only a foretaste of what God has in mind for us. But to enjoy life after death we will need a body suited for heaven. In the sermon on Easter we saw how Jesus' resurrection body appeared for forty days before the ascension. He was freed from earthly limitations,but he still had a body that could walk with disciples on the road to Emmaus, he came to eat and talk in the upper room, and he cooked breakfast for the disciples who had fished all night in the Sea of Galilee.
Our problem is that when death occurs we know that the body eventually rots away. In an atomic explosion the body and mind is immediately and totally disintegrated. As more and more people are cremated at death, doubts about the resurrection of the body become all the more pervasive.
In both Hindu and Greek philosophy there was the idea that our soul was locked up inside our body, and at death it escaped. That allowed the body to be left behind and destroyed. But in the Hebrew Old Testament there was no dividing line between our body, mind, emotions, and total personality. That meant that unless the whole body mind personality could be resurrected there was nothing but survival in the shadowy abode of the dead called sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek. How could we picture such a resurrection of our total personality?
Once upon a time there was a philosophy professor who had an android named Helen. An android is a computerized simulation of a person. Helen could play chess, answer questions, translate into other languages, do maths problems, and move around the room to do various tasks. The professor had become very fond of Helen, but her parts kept wearing out and one day he was told she would have to be scrapped. He was devastated, and begged the computer engineers to keep her alive.
So they came up with a proposal. They would build him a new Helen who would have proper arms and legs, a special new skin, and a proper mouth, nose, ears and eyes. There would also be a huge memory and a hard disk to make possible just about every kind of human thinking. They would then take a reading of all the memory traces, habits and skills of the old Helen and transfer them to the new.
So the first Helen was scrapped and the professor buried her very sadly in his garden. But to his astonishment three days later the new Helen walked in. As soon as she began talking he recognized her immediately. But now she was gorgeous, could swim and play tennis, and she loved a hug and a kiss. So of course they lived happy ever after.
The point of this is that we all know computer science and automation is advancing every day. We cannot conceive of computer scientists making a lifelike Helen by the year 2,000. But transferring all that is in one computer to a better one is already happening all the time. The idea of taking a reading of all that we are in our lifetime and transferring it into a resurrection body is not logically impossible. The only problem is who would do this for us when we die? If we are atheists there is no engineer to do the resurrecting.
In his death and resurrection Jesus appeared in a form that the unbelieving disciples could recognize immediately. He kept appearing again and again for forty days to give the disciples the absolute certainty that a prototype resurrection had in fact occured. Obviously if God has designed us for life in this world it would be easy for him to take a reading of our total personality before we die, and put that into a resurrection body that is suited for the life of heaven.
The only question is whether he loves us enough to want us in his eternal family. That is why John 3:16 is at the heart of Christian faith. Let me paraphrase it like this. "God so loves the humans he has made that he sent the Son into our world that whoever responds to him may not be scrapped but be raised for eternal life." For God, making us willing to enjoy loving and being loved is the hard part. Resurrecting us into his eternal family is easy.