I grew up in church. So I’ve heard it. I’ve repeated it even. “Don’t worry! When we get to heaven we’ll all have perfect bodies!”
And it’s true. We will be perfected once we get there.
But over the years I’ve interpreted that perfection to mean that I’d be a certain size. I figured some of my “less-than-ideal” features would be transformed into my definition of amazing. In other words, I’d be hotter in heaven.
Now, I’m not sure I believe that.
Our church has been leading a citywide discussion in Austin about what’s after life–looking at “near death experiences.” The terminology is a bit confusing because these are the stories of literally thousands of people who actually died for some period of time (one guy was dead for almost two hours) and then came back to life. (If you want to read more about this, here’s a great book. Or, you can watch their fascinating stories here.)
As we’ve studied heaven and listened to stories of those who have briefly visited, something hit me: We’ll be recognizable in heaven.
In other words, I’m still going to look like me. You’ll still look like you in Heaven.
The sound of that may, at first, be a little discouraging. Wait??!? I thought I’d be perfect there? I struggled with body image for decades. I’ll confess, this thought pricked at my sensitive spots!
Won’t I look BETTER in Heaven?
As my pastor preached on the topic, another, equally disturbing thought hit me. Jesus’ resurrected body still had scars. “Doubting” Thomas confirmed Jesus’ identity through touching them.
What? Does that mean I’ll still have my scars in heaven? I thought these bodily signs of our fallen world would disappear?
Friend, I really don’t know all the answers here. Having never visited heaven myself, I’m speculating a bit. I know we’ll be healed and whole there. But, I don’t know how that looks on us, physically. I don’t know if Jesus’ kept his scars and we lose ours. Neither do I know what size we’ll be. Does our heavenly body look like us at our ideal weight? I’m really not sure. So here’s where I landed.
In Heaven, my glory won’t come from my body.
(Read that line again if it didn’t sink in.)
Even if my resurrected body still resembles this body, it won’t matter. My eyes will finally be unswervingly fixed upon the only one who does–Jesus!
And as I think about this one truth, it makes me even more convinced that the only way to find body image freedom here on earth is to keep Heaven in mind–not because we’ll have “perfected” bodies there, but because we’ll finally be able to derive our glory from him alone.
Just think about how satisfying this will feel!
What freedom will come when we can finally cease fighting for our own glory!
No more envy. No more pride. We can just bask, without earthly cares, in the one who is supremely glorious. That is true rest.
I wonder what it would look like to live that way here and now.
If we can wake up, each day, and remind ourselves that our bodies, our accomplishments, our positions, our successes–these are not our glory. Only Jesus is. What freedom that would bring!
I’m going to stop telling people I’ll look perfect when I get to heaven. Sorry if I misled you with that in the past. Instead, I’ll tell them this.
In Heaven it won’t be about me. It’ll only be about Jesus.
That’s so freeing, isn’t it?