Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-11
“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… Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:4,7)
Paul makes a clear statement one verse prior to the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians. He says in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” We all probably already know this as a fact — that everything on earth will pass away, that our very lives will come to an end, and that there is nothing eternal to hold on to in this life.
Amid persecution in the early church, the prize of heaven seemed like a sweet crown that strengthened Christians and gave them hope. But what about today? One of Satan’s crippling techniques is to keep Christians from any sort of affliction or conflict. When their lives are sweet and sound, Christians will be happy to fatten their lives with the goodness of this world and forget of the far greater communion table awaiting in heaven.
Think about it. When was the last time we longed to go to heaven? Are we not satisfied with the worldly life we are living right now? We do not wait long for what is ‘mortal’ in us to be ‘swallowed up by life’. We love what is mortal. What means the most to you? Is it your family, your friends? Or is it your future success, your reputation, your church life even? All these things are temporary. They do not last. Though this does not discredit the value of these things, we must think again about what our deepest desire should be.
Those who long for heaven are only those whose hearts deepest desire is communion with God. He is our loving Father, eternal Friend, our Glory and steadfast Hope. Those who love to get to know their God long for heaven because they will be able to enjoy what they love more fully in heaven. To them, eternal worship is sweet. They long as the psalmist does in Psalm 84:10, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness”. Heaven is a sweet hope to these people, and death is only a doorway to their greatest joy. These people say, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Where do we stand?
A change of heart starts here and now. We must know that we must all give an account of our lives before God’s judgement seat. If He has lavished on us grace upon grace, are we still going to pursue and love what is mortal? When will we turn our affections wholly for Him? Longing for heaven means a longing to please God here and now. In other words, it is a longing for holiness. May God shape this sort of heart in all of us.
Lord, please shape in us a heart that longs for heaven. Tear us away from our worldly desires and fix our eyes on what is eternal. Revive us, Lord, and bring us to know You so that our lives are not wasted in earthly ways. Teach us to groan to be swallowed up by life because if we are honest, we love what is mortal. Please forgive and cleanse our hearts. In Jesus’ name, amen.