In Acts 1 we read the account of Jesus Christ allowing the apostles to witness His ascension to heaven. A strikingly similar account is recorded when the prophet Elisha witnesses his mentor Elijah taken up into heaven. This is a memorable event that leaves Elisha dismal as he watches his teacher depart from him and go into the sky. The apostles of Christ did not understand why their Lord left them and with sadness they too watched Jesus disappear into the heavens. As they looked intently up into the sky, the angels woke them saying, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven." After that, they returned home.
The Bible tells us that when Christ was taken up into heaven, it was His resurrected glorified body that was taken. This same glorified body will be revealed to us upon Jesus' return. Though the second person of the Trinity is fully God complete with all of the divine attributes of God (i.e. omnipresence - "being everywhere at once"), we learn that Jesus laid aside the glory He had with the Father before His incarnation. I believe that this is the lesson that God wants us to learn.
In place of the glorified body of Christ present on earth, we have His church and the local church meeting in numerous places. The global church is the body of Christ - His church. It comprises of everyone who believes in Jesus. Though the church - the body of Christ - cannot be omnipresent like God, Jesus instructs us to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. In this sense, the church - the body of Christ - is then stretched across the world and to the ends of the earth. In yet another sense, we are struck with the thought "is this not the extension of the incomparably great power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead to life eternal?"
We work relentlessly with one heart and soul for the expansion of the church of Jesus Christ. All believers fully devote themselves to carrying on the work of the body of Christ, to bring the blessing of eternal life to the peoples of this world. As Christ has not yet taken His church up into heaven, the blessings of eternal life on earth have not yet been fully realized. It will be on that day when Christ returns, that the complete blessing of eternal life upon our mortal bodies will be fully realized.
God impressed upon me an understanding that the span of one's life is not important. What is important is whether we have edified, strengthened, and built the church - the body of Christ. Before we step into the joy of eternity and glory, may we work together in building the eternal body of Jesus Christ - His church!
Rev. Kelvin Li
May 14, 2008