Years ago, before we had children, Rebecca and I went tent camping up the coast of Maine into Cape Breton, Canada. We overnighted at an ocean cliff side campground called Meat Cove. In daylight and calm winds, we adventurously set up our tent on a tiny rock outcropping towering above the Atlantic Ocean. As evening advanced and the winds picked up, we found ourselves retreating inland wishing for more substantial shelter.
The Apostle Paul uses a similar image in 2 Corinthians 5 to describe our hope in the resurrected body. He writes,
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 (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
So much hope in one paragraph! Paul compares our present body to a tent – flimsy, destructible, vulnerable. In this tent, this corruptible, death-destined body, we groan in weakness, weariness, and fatigue as we long not to put off this body, not to cast aside our tents, merely to be left naked as disembodied spirits. No. That’s not our great, high hope. As we’ve observed many times before, our great hope is not simply to die and go to Heaven; it’s to live and see Heaven come to earth!
Paul writes in Philippians 3, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body… (3:20-21). We are awaiting Jesus to come from Heaven to transform our bodies to be like His.
Yes, Heaven is preferred over our current fallen condition. Paul goes on to write, “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2:9), but that’s not our ultimate hope. Our ultimate hope is to be further clothed (2:4).
Paul is envisioning a new kind of physicality characterized by incorruptibility, by immortality, by permanence and life. He is envisioning a body that is more real, more physical, more creational, a body fully and completely immune to death. This is the body God has in store for us in the resurrection.
Imagine such a body! No more groaning. No more brokenness. No more cancer. No more heart failure. No more Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, neuropathy. No more! Instead, we will be raised in strong, healthy, physical bodies that have been furthered clothed with resurrection glory.
And as a guarantee, God has given us His Spirit! All of this is embedded in our Easter cry, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Shout it with renewed vigor this Easter. – Pastor Conner