“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49).
Our present reality confirms this statement only too well. We all bear the image of the man of dust. The bad news is that our lives are…dusty. The good news is that one day we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. We were created in the imago dei. We bear the marks of eternity within (Ecclesiastes 3:10), which will be fully realized as we are “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51b-52a).
Hope comes as we acknowledge our first father, the man of dust, and we trust in our second Father, the man of heaven. Because we have been given physical life from the dust of the earth, we have the promise of eternal life from the spiritual realm of heaven. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (verse 53).
The reason I write these words is because at times I get overwhelmed with the “earthiness” around me, and, yes, even the “dustiness” of my own life. I concede the fact that I have borne the image of the man of dust, and I wallow in my earthly identity. I forget the second part of the verse, that I will also bear the image of the man of heaven. In fact, I already bear that image, but one day it will be fully realized. For those who are in Christ Jesus, we have “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10). We may still live in the duality of our present reality, but one day the perishable will give way to the imperishable, the dust of earth will give way to the glory of heaven.
While we remain in the flesh, we struggle with the dustiness of indwelling sin (Romans 7:17-20). We cannot avoid the earthiness of this life. But we can rise above it, though not through our own ability, which is weak and insipid (Romans 7:18). Who will deliver us from the dust effect of our humanness? The Apostle Paul emphatically writes, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
In our dustiness, we can welcome it, wallow in it, or work through it by the Man of heaven. Some people welcome it by embracing their freedom to live however they choose, but this actually becomes a new form of bondage (Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19). G. K. Chesterton remarked that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain but from being weary of pleasure. Ravi Zacharias once wrote, “When the pleasure button is pressed incessantly, we are left feeling bewilderingly empty and betrayed.”
If we choose not to welcome our sin, we can too easily wallow in it. Some find themselves in hopelessness and despair with an attitude of, “This is my lot, so why fight it?” But that ultimately leads back to embracing our dustiness, even though it is out of resignation rather than willing reception. We are left in bondage once again.
The third and final option is to work through our sin by the One whose image we will ultimately bear, the Man of heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by His power we have been saved from sin, to righteousness, and for the purpose of living “heavenly” on earth. By that I don’t mean that we think heavenly but do no earthly good. I mean we think “Christianly” as we see ourselves—our actions, attitudes, relationships, and work—participating in Jesus’ prayer that “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Until that day comes when the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality, we embrace the calling we have received in Christ Jesus to live His kingdom values here on earth. We live in the dustiness of earth while we long for the glory of heaven. But our longing leads to action where we are to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). So now, my dear friends, I think it is time for us to get to work.