1 Corinthians 15:51-53 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: 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 be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
Change is often difficult for us. Bible-believing, conservative Christians are accustomed to being suspicious of change. We sing in the hymn, “Change and decay in all around I see, Oh, Thou who changest not, abide with me!” Because too often we see change move in the wrong direction. We have been holding the line against attempts to change God’s word and promises. It makes us an ever shrinking minority who still believe in moral absolutes, who still believe in grace and faith alone, who still believe in the eternal promise of Easter day!
Sometimes, even change for the positive feels slow and painful–overcoming a serious addiction, fixing a broken relationship, repenting of our own faults and failings. We are tempted to adopt a position that blindly says, “If it means change, I am against it!” But then we would be closing ourselves to the God whose call to repentance calls us to change every day.
In the resurrection, our Lord shows us change to which we can happily agree. Nothing slow or painful here. It all happens “in a flash.” For “flash” Paul uses the Greek word from which we get our word “atom.” It refers to something so small that it can no longer be cut or divided. It is as small as can be conceived. In this briefest moment in time we will be changed instantaneously. You can run the slow motion video, but you will look in vain to see any series of transitions. One moment dead, the next alive. One moment corrupt and earthly, the next moment pure and heavenly. No years of purgatory to suffer through to get there, either. It all happens “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”
There is nothing negative to fear about this change. The life that is coming is the very opposite of decay. “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
In the resurrection, we will all be imperishable. Every trip to the doctor or dentist reminds me how much I am like the spoiling fruit sitting on our kitchen counter. In my case, the pace is just much slower. Comparing photos old and new reveals lines that didn’t used to be there, hair that has gotten silver in places. At least the hair is still hanging on to the same real estate! Now we are perishable, mortal, and the evidence is all around us all the time.
But we will be raised imperishable, immortal! More amazing than going out to the compost pile behind my garage, picking out what used to be an orange–now covered in green and white mold, its fruity flesh now a brown, stinking, oozing mush–and making it somehow firm and sweet and edible again, God will pluck our bodies from their graves, in whatever state of decay. Instantly we will be stronger, healthier, more beautiful, and more intelligent than we were at the peak of our youth and the height of our earthly powers. More than that, our hearts and souls will be so saturated with holy love that we will be capable of nothing but goodness and kindness for the eternity of life the resurrection brings us.