Chapter 5:1-5 (ESV) - 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, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Question to consider: Why does Paul switch from describing our bodies as jars of clay to tents?
In today’s passage, Paul moved from metaphorically referring to our physical bodies as “jars of clay” to tents. As earthen vessels we are better able to show people the unsurpassing glory of Christ, for we contain nothing of value in ourselves that would attract God to choose us as His people. The idea of a tent emphasizes the place in which we dwell.
Scientists try to attribute our existence to a series of chemical reactions in biological systems, but outside of being able to highlight brain activity on an MRI, they have never been able to point to the place where our soul exists. There are dark science fiction stories that try to make the argument that our identity is found in our personal memories and can somehow through future technology be stored on a hard drive or transferred to another body to achieve our desire for immortality or change to an alternate nationality or gender.
However, these attempts always ring hollow because on some level we know that there is a part of us that can exist outside of our bodies, and at the same time God has mapped our DNA into every one of our cells to identify exactly who we are. We have a longing to dwell with our God in heaven as well as a longing for our earthly bodies to be resurrected imperishable and reunited with our spirit. We long to live physically and eternally with our one true King where sin, pain, and death have been forever abolished.
In the meantime, we live with the aches and pains of the perishable as ambassadors to that King and have been given God’s Holy Spirit as a guarantee. The Spirit of God gives us a capacity for self-sacrificing love as well as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Much like communion is just a foretaste of the feast to come, the Holy Spirit gives us hints of heaven while allowing us to be reminded with every affliction that this world ain’t it.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for equipping us with all that is necessary to be Your ambassadors here on earth while still giving us a longing to be raised up imperishable with Christ to dwell eternally with You. May we seek to use the gifts You have given us to serve others, faithfully administering Your grace in its various forms. Amen.