“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 15:50
Please read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 before you begin.
In ancient China, tales of emperors seeking the elixir of immortality from the first Qin dynasty to the last dynasty of Qing are common. The emperors went to extraordinary lengths for alchemists to brew a concoction in a cauldron—a deadly cocktail of mercury and arsenic salts. Needless to say, most died unnaturally from their elixirs, and none achieved immortality. Surely, the emperors knew about the elixir’s total failure rate, given that Chinese history was systematically cataloged across antiquity. What drove them to take such risk, then? Perhaps they couldn’t give up the earthly pleasures as kings—treasure, power, empire, concubines, and more. The world was theirs, but not forever. Ironically, the more they pursued immortality, the further they got from it.
In many ways, our desires are similar today. There are things we cannot bear to part with, and we fear death. It takes faith and constant reminders to remember that our rewards are in heaven and to embrace our mortality in sickness and in health. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:50: “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Consider Jesus Christ, the true King who was born in the flesh. He shared our humanity and understood our desires, but he taught that our earthly treasures are nothing compared to what is in heaven. The key to all this was Jesus’ resurrection: a message in the renewal of life, returning strong in the flesh, after giving up his mortal body to flogging and crucifixion.
Jesus showed that eternity isn’t just a pipe dream for emperors who could afford an army of alchemists, but a hopeful reality for everyone who followed him. Jesus’ resurrection isn’t merely about Jesus. It’s also about our living hope. God’s message of not desiring earthly treasures and trusting him has echoed through the ages. In the Old Testament, God warned Lot’s family fleeing Sodom to not look back or they would perish. Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt because she looked back. Jesus said in Luke 17:33, “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will save it.” Patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, who had not personally witnessed the fulfillment of the promised Messiah in their lifetime, were brought into eternity because of their faith. Hebrews 11:13 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” They didn’t choose to return back to the places that had brought them comfort, stability, and good memories. Instead, they took up God’s work, which often required them to go through some harsh circumstances. However, their obedience and faith had brought them to a heavenly place.
Eternity just isn’t here and isn’t in the form we fully understand. Let go, and follow Him. The treasure of a fully realized relationship and reward lies ahead.