Transformed in Heaven

My first ‘real’ job after graduation from high school and leaving home was working as a physical therapist aide in a Nursing Home. The description of this position included making daily rounds assisting with the movement of stiff, often immovable arthritic joints and atrophied limbs. Many of the residents who were my patients associated my visits as a fate worse than death, akin to a tax audit or a colonoscopy. One of my favorite Nanny’s who had the knees of a 45 year old camel, used to tell me, amidst pulling out my hair, “Growing old is not all it is cracked up to be, but the alternative is a killer”.

I don’t know about you, but as I am aging, there are some days in which I “long for an upgrade” (Alcorn, 2004). Randy Alcorn in his book entitled, Heaven, discusses the nature of the resurrected body as espoused in the bible and I can’t wait! The little aches and pains within the body… extremities beginning to creak and grind are annoying at best, but the most upsetting feature about aging is the dulling of the mind…It is frustrating not being able to mentally process, sort, or file data or remember how to articulate it once it is retrieved. Researchers report that brain ability peaks at age 22 and mental powers begin to dwindle at age 27. Definitely need that upgrade! In the bible, it states those in Christ will receive a resurrected body. “Christ will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3: 20-21). A new brain, perhaps?

The word used for transform is a very intriguing word and in the original is metaschēmatizō , meaning to transfigure or disguise. However, knowing just a little about Paul, his writings and the guidance given by the Holy Spirit that inspired him in choosing verbiage, I wonder about why this word was chosen and the intent behind the choice. I am confident the meaning goes much deeper than a simple one-word definition. Ummm…

The word, metaschēmatizō , appears 5 times in the bible and with each usage I marvel at the possibilities for richness of meaning e.g. 1 Cor 4:6; 2 Cor 11:13; 2 Cor 11: 14 and 2 Cor 11: 15. Metaschēmatizō is a combination of two words, meta and schema. Meta is a primary preposition that denotes accompaniment or after. According to Strong’s dictionary, schema, being a noun means figure (as a mode or circumstance), that is, (by implication) external condition: fashion. So if we are to combine the meaning of these two words, the definition would expand to something with the effect of…
Christ will [change after a fashion or after a figure] our lowly body to be like His glorious body” (Phil 3: 20-21).

Changing all aspects of our vile and corrupted bodies into glorious bodies as Christ was transformed will be bliss. By why did Paul use the word metaschēmatizō i.e. after a fashion or after a figure when he later uses the phrase ‘to be like His’? Why the redundancy? To be like him i.e. to be resurrected like the resurrected Christ inherently includes not only a physical metamorphosis of which we generally refer i.e. “His clothes became white as light” (Matt 17:2), but also a spiritual transformation which is the soul.

Ummm… but what about the mind and the need of a cognitive metamorphosis? God created man and defined His creation as mind, body, and soul. Could this be why the Holy Spirit insisted that this word be used in the book of Philippians? Could we need a new schema or world view as residents in the New Heaven? On earth, my mind needs to be transformed or renewed moment-by-moment to be ‘like His’ (2 Cor 4:16; Col 3: 10; Rom 12:2). Maybe with resurrection the ultimate transformation will occur so that the “conformity with the body of glory” will be complete. So, my thoughts, beliefs and world view will be like Christ, like Him in all things. So, yes a new brain with a new schema to finally and completely redeem the corrupted and biased ideas once and for all. This is an awesome thought and now more than ever, I can’t wait!

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