AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
Think of someone in this world who you really like. Now suppose you are standing outside somewhere waiting to meet this person for lunch. Much to your surprise, they come driving up in the ugliest car you’ve ever seen: splotchy paint, major dings and dents, ratty looking tape covering over a broken window, a missing headlight, a warped frame. As your friend pulls to a stop and begins to get out, you cry out, “Stop! Stay in that car! I refuse to be seen with anyone who drives such a hideous looking vehicle! Yuck!” Can you imagine yourself talking so crazy? Of course not. Your friend is the one you want to have lunch with, not the car. Your friend is the one you like. The two of you might have a good laugh about how ridiculous the car looks as you head off towards the restaurant together, but you’d never confuse your friend with some broken down vehicle. Neither would God.
To God, the body you see in the mirror is just a temporary vehicle that your soul is using to cruise around in on this earth. God isn’t in love with your vehicle, He’s in love with you: you are the soul inside the vehicle. You don’t look at all like your body. A soul is not a physical being. You don’t really have skin and hair and a skeletal frame—those things are like the metal frame of a car. Now cars are temporary things. They only last so long, and then they’re hauled away to junkyards to be destroyed. It’s the same with your body. You’re only going to keep your body for as long as you are cruising around this earth. But when God announces that your tour down here is done, He’s going to open an invisible door and pull your soul out of this temporary vehicle. Then you and God will go on together to eternity while this physical machine of yours is left behind on earth.
Major problems develop when you lose sight of the fact that your soul and your body are such different things. God has many souls who He dearly loves, yet they are refusing to talk to Him because they’ve decided He can’t like them because of the vehicles they’re driving around in. “I’m too ugly for God to love.” What you really mean when you say this is: “Because I have an ugly earth vehicle, God couldn’t be interested in my soul.” This is crazy. We’ve already talked about how you wouldn’t reject another human because of the kind of car they drive. You’re a fallen human being—if you can rise above such pettiness, why do you think God couldn’t? God is in love with YOU, not your earthsuit. Your earthsuit is just a thing you need to function in this physical dimension because you are a non-physical being. Your body is like the suit an astronaut puts on so that he can walk about on the surface of the moon. Does the astronaut become the suit that he puts on? Should we suddenly start treating him like someone else the minute he dons his helmet? Of course not.
If you want to start a conversation with a passenger on a plane, would you stand outside the plane and start yelling at the top of your lungs in hopes that they’ll notice you? Of course not. You’d go inside the plane and sit down on the empty seat beside them. In the same way, God has never tried to get your attention by standing outside your earthsuit. He goes direct: He gets inside that earthsuit with you and starts talking directly to your soul. This is how you first figured out that there was a God: because the Holy Spirit was riding around in that earthsuit of yours whispering truths to your soul. Your soul heard Him talking and decided to listen. The more you listened, the more you understood, until the day came that you decided you wanted the Holy Spirit to stay, so you submitted to Jesus as your God and Savior. Now that you’re a Christian, you’re never alone in that earthsuit of yours. The Holy Spirit is in there with you, riding along wherever you go. Sound crowded? Oh, there’s plenty of room, because neither of you are physical beings.
Now then, maybe your earthsuit is a real drag. Maybe it’s a clunker. Maybe it doesn’t work right. Maybe it’s always breaking down or it’s missing parts. Should you take it as an insult that God gave you such a lemon body? Should you take it as a sign that He loves you less? NOT AT ALL. Let’s remember why you’re taking this tour through earth in the first place: you’re here to learn about who God is and to start developing a personal relationship with Him. God views this place like an adventure that the two of you are sharing. Now when you set out on an adventure, the kind of challenges you’re going to face depend on what kind of supplies you bring. For example, two men might decide to take a long trek through a huge forest. They can either bring a bunch of food with them, or they can decide to live off the land as they go. If they bring food with them, then eating dinner at night becomes a pretty simple affair. But if they decide to live off the land, well, now they have to spend time hunting together and searching for edible plants. Which option is better? It depends what they’re going for. If they want to focus on saving physical energy, they’ll take the food with them. But if they’re in it for the experience, then they’ll decide to live off the land and give themselves more reasons to try new things and test their skills.
When it comes to the adventure you and God are having, He’s all about the experience. If He gave you a lemon body, it was because He wanted to add an extra element of challenge to the trip so that you and He would have more of an opportunity to bond. After all, if you’re on a long hike with your friend and nothing goes wrong, it’s a different sort of thing than if the two of you have to slug it out through a series of accidents and crises. Strife has a way of rapidly bonding two people together. This is why two soldiers can start off as strangers, fight a brief battle together, and end up as best friends. By giving you an earthsuit with problems, God has set the stage for you and He to form a deeper bond. Every negative element God brings into your life is put there to speed up the bonding process. But to get the most out of body trials, you have to keep a grip on reality: you are not your body, and God is not relating to you from outside your body. You are the soul inside your body and God is inside your body with you, sharing every difficult moment with you and telling you not to worry because He has everything under control. After all, God is the master body mechanic. He built your machine from scratch, and He could easily fix it up to run smoothly all the time. But where would the adventure be in that? You have to remember that God put you on this earth to grow closer to Him, not just to cruise around focused on these temporary things. You’re just passing through this world, and when God pulls you out of your earthsuit at death, He’s not going to put you in another one. You will be free in Heaven, because Heaven is a spiritual dimension that was built to accommodate spiritual beings.
Heaven isn’t going to really be like the physical place God talks about in the Bible—He only describes it that way because physical is all we know. After all, you think that you are your body. You look in the mirror and you think that vehicle you see is the real you, which is why you then get all depressed about how ugly or fat you look. If you can’t get your own identity sorted out, what chance do you have of understanding a non-physical dimension? It’s too early for God to tell you what Heaven is really like. You’ll find out what it’s like when He takes you there, and you’re going to love it. But meanwhile, you need to practice seeing your body for the temporary vehicle that it is. Your body is not you. It’s an incredibly complex machine, and God is quite proud of His ingenious design, but He didn’t build your body to last. He created YOU to last, and YOU are the one He is in love with. YOU are the one He’s talking to throughout the day, YOU are the one He calls His dearly loved child. You are very beautiful to God. You are a soul that He finds very pleasing to look at. If your body is a pain in the neck, God understands and sympathizes. But He wants to teach you how to stop defining yourself by a physical machine, because then Satan can lead you down all sorts of negative roads. You need to view life like you’re driving around in a car with God sitting on the seat beside you. The two of you are joking around, sharing laughs, and discussing serious things. You want to get so focused on the communion inside the car that you stop fixating on the dents in the hood or the cracks in the windshield. What do these trivial details really matter? The external vehicle is just a temporary thing. What’s happening on the inside is what counts.