What are we doing with our lives? Are we so attached to our luxuries and our physical interests that we don’t have time for God? Are we living for our own pleasures or do we realise that the best is yet to come?
The apostle Paul wrote about this struggle between the physical and spiritual, but his emphasis was on the spiritual. For many, this might be difficult to comprehend because we are so attached to what is going on here and now. For Paul, the goal of life was to be ready for eternity.
“We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. But now we groan in this tent. We want God to give us our heavenly home, because it will clothe us so we will not be naked. While we live in this body, we have burdens, and we groan. We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life. This is what God made us for, and he has given us the Spirit to be a guarantee for this new life.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NCV)
Although we know that our life and our body won’t last forever, too often people live as if this is all there is. Yet this isn’t all there is to life. In fact, this really isn’t what life is about!
We should be looking forward to a better body and home. Can you imagine a body that isn’t subject to the aches and pains that so many live with each day? God is going to provide a body and a home that will last forever. No more moaning, no more burdens, no more death. For many, this may seem to be a utopian dream, but this isn’t talking about life as we know it here on the earth. This is about real life, eternal life. This is not only what God wants for us, but this is what God has made for us.
How can we be certain about this? God has given us a guarantee, his Spirit. When we are united with Jesus in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27) we not only receive forgiveness but we also receive the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38) as we are clothed with Jesus. Although as Christians we have the Spirit in us, do we live in recognition of this? Or do we ignore how God wants us to live and resist the Spirit’s influence in our life?
“So we always have courage. We know that while we live in this body, we are away from the Lord. We live by what we believe, not by what we can see. So I say that we have courage. We really want to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord. Our only goal is to please God whether we live here or there, because we must all stand before Christ to be judged. Each of us will receive what we should get—good or bad—for the things we did in the earthly body.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)
What do we base our lives on? Is it just what we can see around us? Or do we have our hope – and our lives – fixed on Jesus, on what we believe? Do we really want to leave this life so we can spend eternity and be at home with him? What is our goal in life? Or do we even have a goal beyond existing day to day?
Paul’s emphasis is that we live not for now but for Jesus. We live with the realisation that we will have to answer for how we live our lives here. We will receive eternity based on what we did during our lives, whether good or bad.
Our goal in life should be simply to please God. Can you imagine how different life would be if all Christians would live this way? This isn’t easy because it goes against the current of what most around us are doing. No wonder Paul wrote twice that we must “have courage”.
May we have the courage to live for Jesus so that we can eternally be at home with him.
Readings for next week: 2 Corinthians 1-5