We Are All Immortals

Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700The resurrection confirms that Jesus is, as He claimed, truly not of this world.

Put in human terms, He comes from another world—although, it might be more accurate to say that God contains heaven, rather than the other way around. But there’s more: this otherworldly being walked on this earth. He was even born here. And He died here. He sweated, ate food, and breathed air like us. His resurrection then gives us good reason to believe that we too are destined for life in this other land.

This truth has at least six implications for our earthly lives:

We are all immortals: The resurrection is our assurance that this life is not all there is—that there is another, greater life awaiting us after death. In other words, the resurrection means, as C.S. Lewis put it, that we are all “immortals.” In The Weight of Glory, Lewis writes: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” We may be immortal but we not all spend eternity in the same place. There are two final destinations: heaven or hell. Lewis writes, “All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.” As Lewis would say, what kind of immortal do you want to be?

We are all wanderers: In Mere Christianity, Lewis writes, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Our desire for God leads us to hope for another world, one in which such desires will be satisfied. It is the resurrection of Jesus not only gives us reason to believe in this other world but it also confirms that we belong to this other world. As Philippians 3:20 puts it, “our citizenship is in heaven.” This means that we are pilgrims here on this earth—wanderers from a mysterious land. We are not too different from the Rangers in the Lord of the Rings:

 [I]n the wild lands beyond Bree there were mysterious wanderers. The Bree-folk called them Rangers, and knew nothing of their origin. They were taller and darker than the Men of Bree and were believed to have strange powers of sight and hearing, and to understand the language of beasts and birds. … When they appeared they brought news from afar, and told strange forgotten tales which were eagerly listened to.

Like the Rangers we have strange powers of sight and hearing—we see with the eyes of faith and listen with our hearts. We understand the secret language of nature, which speaks of a Creator. And we too have strange tales to tell.

We are new creatures: Baptism does not simply wash away the stain of original sin. In baptism, we die with Christ and are reborn through Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” So, through the resurrection, our being has been renewed. We are now creatures from another world, whose behavior is bizarre and unexpected by the standards of this world. We love our enemies and bless those who persecute us. We count all suffering as joy. We talk to God. And we feed the hungry and clothe the poor because we see them as living icons of God Incarnate.

We should live right side up: The unbeliever, G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy, is living an inverted life: “Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity. This is what I call being born upside down. The skeptic may truly be said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstasies, while his brain is in the abyss.” Christianity responds to our instinctive sense that things have been turned upside down with a creed in which “joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small,” Chesterton adds. In The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis writes that all the loneliness, hatred, and ill feelings of earth have no weight compared to the smallest joys of heaven. But we don’t have to wait for heaven to experience such joy. We have it through the resurrection of Jesus.

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Stephen Beale

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Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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  • Kbrinkley

    Thoroughly enjoyed this!

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