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“The weight of glory” is the title of a sermon C.S Lewis once preached in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford on June 8, 1941. It was published by the Macmillan Company under the title of The weight of glory: and other essays in 1949, although it was first published in Theology in November 1941.

Lewis pointed out that we are “half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who want to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. He says, “We are far too easily pleased” and “if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object and will even appear as the rival of that object”.

In other words, we need to wake up from our worldliness because the heaven of the Scriptures is far more than the imagery that comes to us. To be loved by God “seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” We cannot even imagine what God has in store for us and “Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects.” As Lewis says, we will have a body because “The body was made for the Lord, and these dismal fancies [that our bodies are ghosts or live in numbness] are wide of the mark.”

In the essay Transposition” Lewis points out that although Glossolalia may be an embarrassment as a variety of Christian experience, it is also the “organ of the Holy Ghost.” The transposition from an earthly language to a heavenly one requires a different kind of vocabulary because “If you are to translate form a language which has a large vocabulary into a language that has a small vocabulary, then you must be allowed to use several words in more than one sense.” This is a transposition from something richer into something poorer; Our desire “for Heaven...was not simply a desire for longevity or jewelry or social splendours,” but , even if confused, towards a language with new and high values.

Lewis also felt that the concept of Transposition “throws a new light on the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.” There will come a time when all is extinct, as far as generalities are concerned, but we have, as individuals, immorality promised to us, but “Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.”

Lewis points out that a person who has lived in many places and cultures is not as likely to be deceived as someone who has lived only in their native village; There are three enemies against the scholar: excitement (such as Lewis’s time, thinking only about the war and wanting favorable conditions), frustration (believing we don’t have much time to finish our work on earth) and fear (how death forces us to remember and prepare for it).

I think of “transpositions” in the light of what our bodies will be like in heaven. St. Paul talked of our “spiritual bodies” (1 Corinthians 15,44) and said that we are first “buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.” When this happens, “we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies” (2 Corinthians 5.3).

We have the gift of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, “who raised Jesus from the dead, [and who] lives in you [us]. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8.11). He is in us a “foretaste of future glory” and once our bodies are released from sin and suffering, we will have our new spiritual body (Romans 8.23).

Elsewhere (John 4.24) we read that God is Spirit and when we worship him it must be in spirit and in truth. We will be in our spiritual body to worship him, and God will be in his spiritual body. He is not a ghost—he sits on a throne and those in heaven worship him as spiritual beings, not disembodied beings of some kind. We move into a vastly new dimension when we become part of the spiritual world of heaven, with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, angels, angelic beings, and other once earthly-bound creatures.

Our bodies are described as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6.19), built by God as living stones for his spiritual temple (1 Peter 2.5). This can only take place on a spiritual dimension, and it is a foretaste of what we will experience in heaven.

Thanks be to God!

Karl Franklin


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