“Will we lose our personalities in heaven?” one of my friends asked. Heaven – where Jesus invites us after death. Physical death, that is.
What is death that Paul refers to on earth? What does it mean to die to ourselves, to sin, or to one particular lifestyle? It is painful. It does involve mourning over the loss of dreams. Sometimes sin seems so integrated into our lives it is hard to tear apart.
So Christian holiness. I do not see evidence for a “process of elimination” for the sin in our lives, but a process of transformation as we recognize God’s work in the world with better and better focus. We need to die to the “feel-good bad habits” and the need to control what our lives look like and submit those to God (see Romans 6).
“20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:20-22
God has good work for us to do, and is ready to lead us into it. And we do not have to do it alone – we get to work in community with others who struggle, laugh, cry, and dream with us as we work through messy lives.
Will we lose the essence of who we are with death? No, we’ll be more ourselves. We are tainted by sin, and Jesus calls out the best of us. We are made in His image, like snapshots of His character. The closer we are to our Lord, the clearer and more potent those images will be focused. And we might be surprised what He calls out.
God, thank You for the chance to walk through life with other believers who love You, listen to questions, pray over answers, and rejoice in what You are doing. God, death is not easy. Please help our eyes to turn to You in the mess of life, and for me to be fully devoted to You. Wherever You call me. Amen.