Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.” vs. 171 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Some people love the image that Paul chose to describe the great reunion of the living and the dead with the Lord. When taken literally these verses call to mind stories of the rapture that we’ve read about in popular novels about the end times. And if we allow our imagination free reign we have a wild vision of dead folks flying out of their graves and soaring into the sky along with all living believers snatched from their neighborhoods. As they rise through the clouds all these saints will meet the Lord coming down from heaven, and be joined with him forever. We don’t know where Paul got his information but it’s unlikely that he intended anyone to take his words literally. It’s just too bizarre! What he was trying to do was assure his readers that there was life beyond death, and that they didn’t need to worry about those who had died. They would be included in that new creation. We can’t blame Paul for his image or his choice of words. It’s hard for any of us to describe the life that is to come and all of our beloved images break down in the face of rigid literalism. But that’s okay! The truth is that there is life beyond death–and if it’s indescribably wonderful, all the better!
Thought for the Day: Why are people fascinated by end-time imagery?