Merciful Lord, I submit this day to you, with deep joy and high hope.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 5:1-10
Awaiting the New Body
5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The vision: ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death … the old order of things has passed away.’1
Christians disagree about the nature of the life to come. Some think we sleep in Christ until the day of resurrection and final judgment (v 10). Others imagine that, having died, we pass immediately and consciously into heaven. Others think that if we are sleeping anyway the first amounts to the second, to all intents and purposes. Yet others say that all we need to know is that when we are absent from the body we are with the Lord (v 8). In the meantime, we have the Spirit as the guarantee of greater life to come and while we are in the body, we should get on with pleasing the Lord (v 9).
It is clear that Paul’s train of thought on faith in the unseen leads him to dwell for some moments on high theological themes. We see this move from present troubles to deep theological truth frequently in this letter. It matters to Paul that we should have a body in which to dwell – otherwise we are ‘naked’ (v 3). Our present bodies are like an earthly tent, fragile and vulnerable and certainly mortal, subject to death and dying. Yet they are necessary: otherwise (literally) where would we be? In the future life, however, all this will be ‘swallowed up by life’ (v 4). So Paul seems not to fear the prospect of death but to look beyond it to a new world of resurrection existence that is imperishable, ‘an eternal house in heaven’ (v 1). Final judgment is not something to fear, but a resolution of everything that falls short in this life.
Being mortal, it is difficult for us not to shrink back from death; but here is a glorious hope that it is not the end but the beginning of life. There is love at the end.
Jesus said, ‘I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’2
Gracious Lord, it has been said that in Christ, “We can live fully now, and one day we will live forever”, (Lloyd John Ogilvie, 1930-2019). Praise God for this glorious gift.
1 Rev 21:4 2 John 14:3
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