Watching television as a child, I noticed the strangeness of shows about armies in the field. People lived in tents, and they hated it. For sure, they valued their tents while they needed them. But one never watched one of those shows and saw army captains dreading having to go home to solid houses. They might protect their tents from damage in the field. But once they went home, those tents were only part of their lives as a memory or as a thing to bring out for a short camping trip.
People do not want to live in tents. We want to live in houses. We want solid walls and clean floors. We want our beds, not a cot on the floor. We want chairs and tables and genuine protection from the elements.
All this came to my mind as I read what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5 about this life and the next. Paul gives us an image of living in the now versus living in the eternal state. And Paul compares this present life to living in a tent but longing for a home. He also compares this life to living nearly naked and longing to be clothed.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
Our lives at present are the forerunners of our eternal reality. Our present state, even our present bodies are merely tents compared to houses. We live today lives that are real and which matter. But the lives we live are awaiting the eternal state. We long to be clothed. We long to be housed. We, if we know the Lord rightly, long for the eternal and sinless state of joy in his presence in resurrection bodies.
This concept is important at all times. But how much more is it important now. Today we live during a time of pandemic. Many are afraid. Some fear the disease. Some fear the social and political consequences of this time.
Christian, ask yourself how thinking as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5 might change your attitude during this season. We are away from home. We are living in our temporary shelters. We long for home. We long for the presence of the Lord. We are not those who fear death. We are those who look toward eternity with joy, toward life forever with the Lord as home.
No, I am not suggesting that government does not matter. Nor am I suggesting that you should be careless with your body. You are living in this tent at the present, and you do not want it falling apart on you. However, I am suggesting that you and I ought to be quick to remember that this world is not our home. To be absent from the body is to be in the presence of the Lord. Let that call you to live without fear. Let that call you to live for the glory of the Lord. Let it call you to obey God’s commands, desiring more to please the Lord than to protect a tent. Love the Lord. Live without fear. Long for eternity. And do all that you do for the honor of the God who made you.