We Will Not Live in Tents Forever

The apostle Paul was likely one of the finest Old Testament scholars of his day, and sometimes draws on existing imagery to make a point.  One example might be Proverbs 14:11-12, where the second verse is more widely known than the first, but not unrelated:

The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
            but the tent of the upright will flourish.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
            but its end is the way to death.

Physically, it seems obvious that a house is far more durable than a tent, but these Proverbs tell us not to judge by appearances.  Looks and reputation may suggest otherwise, but it is righteousness that determines eternal destiny, specifically acceptance of Jesus’ righteousness.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-3, Paul gives an example of why we should focus not on what “seems right”, but instead focus on the unseen things that matter for eternity, drawing on the tent image:

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.”

Photo by Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash

Paul, defending his apostleship to the Corinthians amidst his suffering while other false apostles lived in ease, knew that an upright tent was better than a wicked house in God’s eyes, and therefore being less comfortable was entirely worth it, since there was an eternal reward waiting in heaven.

Commenting on 2 Corinthians 5, Warren Wiersbe notes that “Heaven was not simply a destination for Paul: it was a motivation.  Like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, he looked for the heavenly city and governed his life by eternal values.”[1]

When frustrated by your earthly limitations, or frustrated by discomfort in this world, know that we will not live in these tents forever.  For His faithful, God is preparing an eternal dwelling for us.  While it “seems right to a man” to think a house is better than a tent, every tent and house in this world is temporary.  Hebrews 1:12 says of all creation, the earth and all the heavens, that:

like a robe you will roll them up,
            like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
            and your years will have no end.

Do we long for our new, eternal heavenly dwelling?  Does this longing motivate us to live for God?  Let us keep Driving Toward Morning today!

[1] Wiersbe, Warren.  Be Encouraged (2 Corinthians) (1994).  P. 69.

The World is Watching

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the young church in first-century Philippi, he wrote: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”[1]

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

When Paul wrote this, the gospels of Mark and John probably weren’t written yet, and the other two may not have been broadly available.  New Christians couldn’t easily read about Christ, so Paul recommends learning about Him through His other followers.  What can people learn about Christ from us on our blogs, social media, and elsewhere?

“Out of a hundred people, one will read the Bible, and the other ninety-nine will read the Christian.” – Dwight L. Moody

[This Rewind Wednesday post is revised from December 2021]

[1] Philippians 3:17

Christians are So Unlikable (Repost)

Mahatma Gandhi is sometimes quoted as saying “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

People often think this statement is shocking and the world is expert at finding hypocrisy, as if evidence of hypocrisy determines the loser of every argument.

But what’s really shocking is “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8

The first quote exalts Jesus as an admirable example that others don’t live up to. The second quote explains that the only reason we are able to exalt Him at all is that He did not abandon us. The sins of mankind, including Christians, only amplify the magnitude of Christ’s love in His sacrifice. I wouldn’t be here to write this otherwise. Christians being bad people is not news, because everyone is a sinner.

Would anyone prefer that God judge everyone who was not like Christ on their own merits? Gandhi’s quote seems to want that, without considering the true implications.

Jesus alone, crucified and risen, is the Way. There is no other plan.

May His grace overwhelm us today. We all need it and need to share it.

[This is a Rewind Wednesday of a post originally shared in November 2021]

A Man in Need of an Ally (Repost)

Tribalism comes in many forms and isn’t always a bad thing.  I was at a high school football game last night and watched two football teams and two marching bands perform.  All of these groups are examples of tribes formed for common purpose – to perform music and to win games.  With respect and sportsmanship, friendly competition can be a lot of fun.  The Star Spangled Banner sounds great when played by a group, and football can’t be played alone.  But when winning at all costs, an “Us vs. Them” tribalism, takes over, it can be a serious problem.  Athletes and musicians can become bitter, rival cliques, and players on the field can play dirty.  Different tribes stop treating other tribes as people made in God’s image.

The post below from late 2021 tells the story of Jesus’ love for the Jewish tax collector Zacchaeus, where, Jesus was proclaiming a new paradigm, where there is no “Us versus Sinners”, but in His death and resurrection He created a church that is “Him for Them”, and then “Us for Them.”

It is an example of how following Jesus requires overcoming bitter political and religious tribalism with the love of Christ, and one of my favorite posts.

I hope you’ll take the time to read it!

(Estimated reading time 10 minutes)

God Wants to Hear Everything

Not everyone has a good friend they can talk to anything about at any time.  But we always have God.  As David tells us in Psalm 62:8 –

“Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah”

When do we need a refuge?  When we have troubles.  He wants to hear from us at all times and strengthen and guide us.  Martin Luther, commenting on the verse, wrote:

“Strength fades, courage fails; God remains firm.  If you are lacking something, well, here is good advice: ‘Pour out your heart before him’ Voice your complaint freely, and do not conceal anything from him.  Regardless of what it is, just throw it in a pile before him, as you open your heart completely to a good friend. He wants to hear it, and he wants to give you his aid and counsel. Do not be bashful before him. Out with everything.”[1]

The word Selah at the end of the verse is mysterious, but many believe it is a signal to pause and reflect.  What do you want to “throw in a pile before him” now?

[1] Quoted in McKim, Donald K.  Everyday Prayer with the Reformers (2020).  P. 37.

[This is a Rewind Wednesday of a post originally shared in January 2022]