2 Corinthians 5
As Christians we live a life that we often have to balance in the right ways. Sometimes it’s harder than others. We have responsibilities to God, but we also have responsibilities to our families, our church, and if we work, to our work. We have to obey God more than man. We have our eyes on heaven, but we live on earth. Sometimes that balance results in a paradox. In dying, we live. In losing or giving things up, we gain. We get glimpses of God by serving and loving man. We live in a world that we can see by faith in a world that we cannot see.
We should want to live this life that we can see in our bodies as well as we can, and Paul was an encourager, so in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul outlines one of these balances, namely between the temporal and the eternal. The temporal world is the one we currently live in, where there will be an end to everything, even if it doesn’t seem like some of it will ever end. This is a world marked and limited by time and space. He writes that we live in an earthly tent, but we groan to be clothed in our heavenly tent, which will not be limited by time and space. Since he is describing the Christian life in this chapter, and writing to Christian believers, hopefully we can all identify with what Paul is writing.
So what should we do as Christians, according to Paul? For one thing he mentions, we should always be of good courage. We should value the temporal life that God has given us, but we should appreciate more the heavenly life that he’s promised that is to come in heaven. The best way that we can value our lives here is by fearing God enough to live our lives in ways that are pleasing to God. One day, whether we like it or not, each of us will be judged by God for the life we lived and what we did along the way.
As Paul writes in other places, he writes here that fear of God and the love of Christ should control us. This love for and from Christ should lead us to live for others, not ourselves. The best and highest “other” we can live for is God himself, and through loving him we love others, whether or not they are also in Christ. If they are brothers in Christ, we celebrate with them the new creation that we can all recognize (in them as well as in ourselves). If they are not brothers or sisters in Christ, then we try to persuade them to be reconciled to Christ.
It’s likely this passage provides more of a comprehensive overview of what a life that is pleasing to God than a lot of us would like. A lot of times we want details. It doesn’t outline a lot of specific details, because those details would be different for every reader then, as well as through history until now. The best way to apply generalities from Scripture to our lives is to pray and listen to God about the details. It’s up to us to apply what Scripture says to our own given situations. This is also because the situations change over our lives. I encourage each of us to do as Paul writes, here and otherwise: fear God, love one another, be of good courage, know that there is a better place believers are heading. If we all live with that in mind, then our church will be the kind of family it is supposed to be, and we will be the kinds of Christians we are supposed to be.