Summary: Life in tents. This is what life is like in this sinful and fallen world. But by God’s grace, we have good courage in the solid building of our heavenly home.
Sermon 061409 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
How many of you love camping? How long is a good length of time to go camping? I did a lot of camping when I was growing up, and as I got a little older, I noticed we didn’t go any more. I asked my mom why we didn’t camp anymore, “you loved camping!” I said to my mom. My mom looked at me and said, “I hate camping, it was the only vacation we could afford when you were little.” Shocking revelation!
I still enjoy it. But there is a limit to my enjoyment of it. The last time I went camping was when Anne and I went with a couple we knew that was here from Belgium. They wanted the rustic American experience, and so we threw our tent in the car and followed them, and followed, and followed, at which point we realized that they had NO IDEA where they were going! So we took the lead, and eventually found a campground, but it was LATE.
Setting up a tent in the middle of the day is hard enough, much less at night by car headlight. I was a little annoyed, but I kept it to myself. We didn’t have time to get a fire going to cook, so we went out for dinner. Every place was closed, but we found a bar that would sell us potato chips. I was a little annoyed, but I kept it to myself. We finally made it back to the tents, and as I laid down on the lumpy ground and got ready to sleep, I heard a voice with a Belgin accent address me. “Matt, what size are you?” I replied, “I’m about 6’2.” Again the voice, “how much do you weigh?” “About 220 pounds.” After a brief silence, the voice returned, “According to National Geographic, you are overweight. But you are not obese or morbidly obese.” “Thank You” I replied.
Inside, I was thinking, I hate tents. There is no privacy, there is a small rock poking into my back, and these folks from Belgium can pepper me with questions and insult me at will! But there are lots of reasons not to like tents. In a wind storm, they can just blow right over. If a tent stake comes out, the whole thing can fall in on you in the middle of the night. If it rains, you will get wet, if it gets cold, you will get cold, if it’s too hot outside, it is going to be too hot inside! So I like camping in tents, but only for a night or two, not for weeks on end.
So it’s a little disconcerting to hear how Paul describes life in this world, as a tent camping trip that lasts your entire life! 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. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling. We don’t often think of life like this do we?
But isn’t it true. Life in this sinful and fallen world is like life in a tent. First off, we aren’t totally shielded from the effects of the world around us. We feel the effects of evil. We struggle with sins. We hurt at times. We have reminders that our very earthly bodies are temporary structures don’t we? Sore joints, aches, pains, diseases, you name it! We can resonate with that language, we GROAN to put on the heavenly dwelling!
But at the same time, even as we look forward to our heavenly dwelling, tent life is still a little scary, because one day, for each of us, the tent stakes will get pulled up, and the tent will collapse. We don’t know when that day is. But one day, our hearts will stop beating, our lungs will stop breathing, and the camping trip is over. And it is then that we will be very glad that we have another home. The building from God, a house not made with hand, eternal in the heavens.
The point that Paul is making is that we can know our hope is secure. We can know, no matter what is going on around us, that we have an eternal and heavenly home. God promises this to us. This is why he died on the cross for your sins. This is why He rose from the dead. This is why he gives us the Holy Spirit, to continually remind us and show us what kind of love God has for us, and who gives us hope. I love how Paul describes it: He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.