For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
The Apostle John said it like this, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) What a day that will be! The child of God is promised the ultimate experience—to be face to face with Jesus and in that moment to be changed into His likeness. We will share in the glory of heaven. Paul gives us some insight into what it means to share the glory.
He speaks of OUR AFFLICTION (2 Cor.4:16-18). This old house is in a state of deterioration. The hand of disease can grab life around the throat and squeeze it out. But the wonderful promise for God’s children is that as physical strength ebbs, spiritual power increases. In some fashion, our afflictions prepare us for the glory of heaven. Often we ask, “Why?” when we see a loved one suffer. I don’t have the solution to that dilemma—ultimately we will understand when we reach eternity. There are some comforting insights given us here, however. Paul speaks of light, momentary affliction. From the human perspective, suffering may seem heavy and agonizingly long, but from the heavenly perspective, where a day is as a thousand years, it is light and brief. And it produces for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. God puts His saints in the furnace of pain to refine them as pure gold and mold them in the exact image of Jesus. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom.8:18)
OUR AFFLICTION leads to OUR ANTICIPATION (2 Cor.5:1-8). Paul was not afraid to die; he was anxious to get home! This world is not our real home. This body we live in becomes one day unfit for occupation. In heaven, we will never have a pain or care. No wonder Paul said, “To depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” (Phil.1:23) We sorrow when separated from a loved one, but it doesn’t need to be a permanent separation. We can see them again in heaven.
This should be OUR AIM (5:9-10). Paul’s aim was to be accepted by God. When death called him into eternity, he wanted to be prepared. Are you? Every person who has ever lived will one day stand in judgment before the Lord. You need not fear that. You can be assured today of acceptance before God—not based on your own merits, but the finished work of Christ. There will also be a judgment for the believer. It will not be a judgment for sin, but for our service. Our reward will be determined according to our faithfulness to Christ. All believers will share the glory, but some will shine brighter. My aim is that when I come to the end of the way, to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matt.25:21) Remember this:
Only one life; ‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done for Christ will last.