God does not call us to the glory of this world (terrestrial glory). He calls us to a different glory. It is a glory that in the worldly sense is no glory at all. It is a glory that does not seek after anything of this world.
Verse 43 tells us that the resurrection of the dead “is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power”.
To put it out in screaming headlines: THERE IS NO WORLDLY GLORY OR HONOR ASSOCIATED WITH A SPIRITUAL MAN OR WOMAN. There is only disgrace, tough times, lack, scorn, sometimes insults and beatings, and such like things.
And this state of affairs is to be borne in a spirit of love and humility.
Notice the scripture also says, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (v.44).
The term ‘spiritual body’ here is not referring to ghosts or the spectral beings that the world associates with the word ‘spirit’. Rather, it is referring to the character of God. In other words, when we crucify our carnal lusts at the cross with Jesus, we are raised up with the spiritual life or character of God in us. We become spiritual as opposed to carnal. We die to our natural man. Someone can slap me on the right cheek and I can turn the left one for him to slap, in perfect peace.
The bottom line is that the heavenly glory is tied up with suffering – and death – in the flesh. In Romans 8:16-17 we read: “16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Shouldn’t we be rejoicing here? The Bible says right there that when we are suffering with Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are being conformed to the nature of God – being made heirs of God’s promise in the Spirit.
I love the fact that the Holy Spirit can bear witness with my spirit that I am doing something right.
When I mention the word ‘promise’ I am not talking about those 365 promises that my charismatic friends have dug up in the Bible (“a promise for each day”, they say, which probably is not a bad thing).
But I am talking about God’s promise to make us spiritual men and women. That is our true inheritance. That is the spiritual promise. That is the celestial glory.
And who is sufficient for these things? Only the revelation of the cross in our hearts can bring this sufficiency. That is why the Apostle Paul would not preach the early churches any other gospel except Christ and Him crucified. And when the churches reneged on their first love, he went back and reminded them of this same gospel. He did not change his message. For he knew that if they would not suffer with Christ by taking up their cross and following Him, they would remain carnal, worldly – and defeated – churches.
We need to ask ourselves, and each other: what glory are we seeking after?
[Below: The sun setting over Singida]