So does it matter what we think about matter? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
We’ve been doing a study on the difference that the resurrection of Christ makes. Note that in this study I am assuming that the resurrection is true. There are other times that I have answered the question of the resurrection, but for now, rather than give an apologetic, it is simply to point out that there is much more that the resurrection means for us than what we take from it. It certainly means we are forgiven and have eternal life, but we are missing far more than we realize with our approach to the resurrection.
In the Greek world, there was already growing a movement against matter that later comes out more in the Gnostic heresy. From a Platonic perspective, this world was the world of change and the good and perfect world was the unchanging world of the forms. For the Gnostics, matter was a creation of an evil god and it was the role of Jesus to free us from the material world and take us to our real dwellings.
Thankfully, we are past this in the church today. We never have any ideas in the church that the world is going to go away and that we’ll all live forever in an immaterial Heaven. Oh? You mean we still have that kind of belief. Of course, most Christians would realize that we are in Heaven bodily after the resurrection, but many times that line is blurred. I think of the time I heard a pastor speaking at a sermon about a friend who had died and how the next day, he knew his friend was walking on those streets of gold.
Now we can quibble about how we will interpret the description in Heaven in Revelation and if it’s literal or not. (I say not) However, the point to make is that his friend was not walking on those streets of gold if they were real. Why? It is because the body of his friend was still in the ground and until the resurrection took place, his body would remain in the ground. I advise pastors doing a funeral to simply say that the Christian who has died is in the presence of Jesus. Don’t talk about the body being up there. It is not and will not be until the final resurrection.
What we need to realize is that in the resurrection, we get the realization coming in that the creation of the world was not an accident. It was not a plan B. It was not that God’s angelic world didn’t hold up since the devil rebelled so he figured he’d just try with another world altogether. No. This world was part of the plan all along. In fact, it would seem odd for God to create a world of even less perfect creatures than the angels and say “Maybe they’ll do better.”
My wife happens to be a great lover of nature and she is right when she tells me that it is a shame that the New Age movement outdoes us it seems in environmentalism. Christians can too often write off proper care for the environment. Now I am not in any way saying to go out and be a tree hugger or join PETA or something of that sort. I happen to think man is to be in charge of the environment and master and use it, but he is also to have a respect for it as the creation of God.
When we do our environmental duty, perhaps we could go out singing the hymn of “This Is My Father’s World.” It is created for us to use, but not to abuse. We are the caretakers of the creation acting on the behalf of God. It is certainly the case that while we do not worship the creation, we should be the ones doing such a job taking care of it that we put the New Age movement to shame. It is not a sin for the Christian to love the world God created. In fact, I would say it is a sin for him to not do so.
When God resurrects Jesus from the dead, we find that He is really saying that the other side is wrong. This is a good world. It is a good world because Christ rose in a material body. Does the fact that He rose in a body say anything about our bodies? We’ll save that for next time.