“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Kajoli is a widow with two children, living in a village in southern Bangladesh, near the Bay of Bengal. She lives in the house left to her by her husband’s parents, both now deceased. This old, wooden home is severely damaged by termites and decay and is unsafe and inadequate for her family. At the request of the local church, Christian families in the U.S. have made it possible for her house to be rebuilt and made safe by giving funds with which to buy materials. Members of her congregation have volunteered to provide the necessary labor.
There is more than one kind of “building from God.” Because of God’s love for us and the saving blood of Jesus, Christians enjoy a fellowship that includes helping one another. Kajoli’s new house will truly be a gift of God to her, through loving and generous disciples of Jesus. Believers are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
A second “Building from God” is the Church itself. Paul writes,
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Peter refers to individual Christians as “living stones” built upon the foundation stone of Jesus as a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). The Church of Jesus Christ, composed of all who are saved by his blood through obedient faith in the Gospel, is God’s true eternal temple, in which he dwells on Earth through his Spirit. It is within this house (temple) that we have access to God, worshipping him and serving him boldly and confidently (Hebrews 10:19-22).
But there is finally the “Building from God” to which Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 5. This is the eternal home of all faithful followers of Jesus ?- Heaven itself. Jesus promised the Apostles, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). In 2 Corinthians Paul uses a slightly different figure. He describes our mortal body as an “earthly house” or “tent,” and the resurrected body we will receive in eternity as “a house not made with hands.” It is this house, “eternal in the heavens,” which Paul declares is promised to all Christians. And it is this house for which he encourages us to long earnestly. The two figures (body and mansion) are obviously complementary and compatible.
When Jesus comes to claim his own, all faithful Christians will receive a resurrected, immortal body, which will be given an eternal home with God. Regardless of our circumstances here on Earth, we have a mansion above. Nothing should distract us or divert us from the path towards Heaven. Nothing we have or lack in this life compares with that which God has ready for us there. Thus Paul exhorts us, “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:6,7).