“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.” 2 Corinthians 5.1-5
I like tent camping. Although the ground isn’t as soft as it use to be, with the right equipment (mats and sleeping bags) it can be quite comfortable. Yet sleeping in a tent is never as good as sleeping in my own bed in my own house. The tent is often noisy when the wind hits it and either hot or cold depending upon the weather. My camping tent is for temporary, not permanent, shelter.
Paul talks about tents but not the kind we camp in. Paul, who was a tent maker, would know something about tents. He would know the canvas or skins used for the exterior. He could probably suggest fine furs for the interior and even the best lamps to hang from the ceiling for light. But Paul, like us, knows tents are temporary shelters which is why he compares them in this passage to our bodies.
In this passage, Paul writes about our earthly bodies as “tents” that will one day be destroyed and which will be replaced with “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Until this time that we are to be with God in heaven, Paul understands the burdens, groanings and difficulties of this life. We long to be with the Father “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” But thanks be to God who does not leave us as orphans. The text says “he fashioned us for this very purpose” and as a result of this temporary dwelling and struggle, “God has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.”
The greatest hope is eternal life and fellowship with the Father. The Spirit of the Father and Son will be residing in our hearts, as a deposit. It’s a shadow of what is to come. Our temporary earthly bodies behold his Spirit but one day these earthen vessels will fail. And when they do, our souls will rise to heaven and we will see Jesus face to face.
“O Lord God, you are good. Even when my love fails, your love remains steadfast. This temporary body will one day give birth to the heavenly body in which we will see you face to face. Thank you for this amazing life you have given me. I praise you that I might bear witness to the fact of your unfailing love. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your grace and power. Help me be all you have called and created me to be. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen