What’s the longest you’ve stayed in a tent?
Me? Five days in the Great Smoky Mountains.
I love tents. I love camping. I love the outdoors… but I also love coming back to my house once the tent time is over–back to hot water, a kitchen, a clean bathroom, and a soft bed.
Did you know that the apostle Paul used the analogy of a tent and a house to teach some important, perspective-shaping truths? Truths about you?
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 Cor 5:1)
What is this “tent” that is your earthly home?
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 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. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Cor 5:2-5)
Your “tent” is that which is “mortal.” Paul is talking about your body. Think about that for a moment. Your body is just a tent–a temporary dwelling place. It’s your earthly home now, but it’s not eternal. Regardless of the diet, the exercise, the supplements, or the gimmicks, our bodies are prone to groan. Life, with all of its burdens, inevitably takes a toll on our “tents.”
And yet, by God’s Spirit, Paul is revealing so much more. Though our “tents” will not last forever, “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” What is “mortal” will eventually be “swallowed up by life,” and “he who has prepared us for this very thing is God.”
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… (2 Cor 5:6)
What do I need to do with my earthly “tent” now in order to be ready to stand before him then? He has prepared glorious things for me; how would he have me prepare? How can I make the most of my life on earth and avoid wasting this precious opportunity?
Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Faith comes from listening to and applying what God has said in his word.
Live with the determined awareness that it is better to be away from these bodies and at home with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). Don’t put anything earthly before your allegiance to your Maker.
Make it your aim to please him (2 Cor 5:9). Every day. Everywhere. In all circumstances. Whatever is going on. The aim is to please the Lord.
Fight to maintain a God-shaped sense of awe. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10).
Knowing the fear of the Lord, persuade others (2 Cor 5:11). You’ve come to know the truth. Share it with those who don’t.
As a living sacrifice, give yourself over to the controlling love of Christ. He died for you so that you might no longer live for yourself, but for him who for your sake died and was raised (2 Cor 5:14-15).
Throughout the day, take moments here and there–in the car, in line, with your family–to remind yourself: this world is not my home, I’m just passing through.