People of a certain age, we won’t say which age, will remember the tag line of the TV show, The Six Million Dollar Man. It was repeated at the opening of every episode: “Gentleman, we can rebuild him… Better, Stronger, Faster.”
The dream of rebuilding a man, recreating him with new, improved attributes, is a staple of fantasy and science fiction. The concept is at the heart of many super-hero movies, and there is an entire genre of noir fiction built around the theme of cybernetic enhancement. The idea has appeal: you can take the body you have and with a few simple procedures, make yourself better than you were before in some way, or if not better, then at least different.
People like the idea that they can change who they are. Body modifications, whether it be tattoos or piercings, are somewhat of a reflection of this desire, and people have been doing such things to themselves for a long, long time. It may not be bionics, cybernetics or super-powers, but it is a declaration of self-control and self-expression.
Most people are also aware that their mortal bodies are subject to various weaknesses, not the least of which is decay. It would be nice to have a body that doesn’t break, doesn’t wear out (or at least can easily have parts swapped out), and which doesn’t die.
One of the promises of the Bible is just this: a new, better body. Indeed, the hope of a bodily resurrection is central to the promises of Christ. Speaking of the body, using the metaphor of a home, the apostle Paul famously wrote: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1; ESV)
Concerning this new body, we don’t have all the details. In fact, the Biblical writers say as much: “ Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2; ESV) What we are promised by God is that it is going to be a better body: spiritual, immortal, incorruptible, powerful and glorious (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
So what does it take to become this better you? What does it take to upgrade from one body to another?
In science fiction stories and the like, such a transformation often involves surgery, or pills, or cosmic radiation. In reality, God promises a better you through self-control, faith, and obedience to His commands. John, having declared that we are going to be like Christ when He appears, comments that “everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3) Paul, writing about the certainty of the resurrection, concludes, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58; ESV)
The process to build a better you is not a process which is going to happen apart from your participation. We read in the Scriptures: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2; ESV)
Such wording makes it clear that our salvation is a choice. We have to make the choice that we want to be better than we are. Having made that choice, we must then choose to give ourselves to God, fully and completely, which is what is meant by a living sacrifice. You can’t hold back bits and pieces from His control and expect the results He promises from a full commitment. Having made this commitment, we choose to furthermore do His will in our lives, obediently, continually and faithfully. And as we obey in full sincerity, we will find ourselves being transformed inwardly.
In His grace and mercy, God promises that those who follow this path will reap rewards in this life, and even more in the life to come. (cf. Mark 10:30; 1 Timothy 4:8)
Christ can build a better you. God can remake you… Better, Spiritually Stronger, Eternal and Immortal. Whether He does so is entirely up to you, and your willingness to give yourself into His hands.
If you would like to learn more about the resurrection of Christ, and the hope of eternal life He promises, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.