Thursday, October 31, 2019
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.
I didn’t really think about it at the time, but what an appropriate scripture on this day of All Hallow’s Eve. Paul was reassuring those who wondered what would happen to their loved ones upon death. He used figurative language, comparing the temporary nature of a tent (he was a tentmaker by profession, after all!) with the permanent nature of a building made of stone. (Not many trees in a desert climate for a building to be made of wood.) We inhabit this human tent now but later we will be like a building that God makes for us in heaven.
Paul makes a second analogy, comparing our present human nature as being less than the complete nature we will have later. We who are as naked now long to be clothed with the eternal nature God will give us. Life now makes us groan. It can place upon us heavy burdens that we are not strong enough to bear. Just like a strong wind can tear tent stakes out of the ground and leave us exposed to the elements, so our present life can seem like we are unclothed and unprepared for hardships that come our way.
Now a third analogy. Like a small minnow that is swallowed by a larger fish, or a chipmunk snatched up by a hawk, Paul talks about how what is mortal now will be swallowed up by life, the bigger life of our eternal life with God. God who is our creator fashioned us with a purpose, that we should look ahead by faith to the eternal life we cannot see right now.
Fourth analogy – when you receive an amount of money, you deposit it into the bank for safekeeping. It is yours, to be withdrawn at your choosing. Paul calls the Holy Spirit a deposit that God has placed in us for safekeeping. It belongs to God, but God has deposited it in us now, a portion of which the more complete will be ours later. It is a guarantee, for if we have a portion of God’s Spirit now, we will be assured that the rest will be available later.
The summary? We live by faith, not by sight. By our very human nature, to be at home in our mortal bodies means that we cannot perceive all that God is. We are limited right now by our human senses, which keeps us, in some degree, separated from knowing the fullness of God. Even so, be confident of what will come when this earthly life is complete.
Dear God, I realize how limited I am, because I cannot see beyond the reality of this present life to fully comprehend the gift of eternal life you offer in Christ. I can only make guesses, inferences, that help me appropriate by faith the promises you will fulfill later on. I lift up to you those I have loved who are now gone. I pray that they are with you by faith, and that they have received what I may only perceive in this life from afar. I look forward to the day when we are all reunited, and will surround your throne in worshipping you – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.