We Make it Our Aim to Please Him
2 Corinthians 5:1-17
† In Jesus Name †
May you revel in the grace, mercy and peace – that in which your Father in heaven has provided for you through Jesus. And as you revel in it – may you know you bring Him the greatest pleasure!
The juxtaposition of life… and death
we hear Paul’s words about life, in view of life, and death– to know that this earthly tent that will be stripped away, in view of something not crafted with human hands, but prepared for us by God Himself. To realize that we have confidence as we live this life, trusting in Him, and not focusing on that which we can see, that which surrounds us, that which would distract us from realizing God’s presence now…
I used to think of eternity as that which began, as Paul would say, when this earthly tent is stripped from us and we finally experience the our eternal home, the life God has prepared for us – that is when eternity begins.
Yet, looking at our lives from God’s perspective, we already dwell in that kingdom, He has already claimed us, and though we cannot see it, we already live in His presence, for the Holy Spirit has been given to us, until that day when our sight finally matches that promise of God, in which we trust. If we have His perspective, then how we live our lives, what we do, and how we survive the times when we are overwhelmed with life.. and death.
But having an eternal outlook – so well described in Paul’s words,
5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NIV)
The challenge is keeping that focus… or perhaps… the key is realizing that the focus isn’t a focus – but in grasping that He is our Father.
The Challenges to an Eternal Outlook
Given the world we live in, living life with a heavenly focus, setting priorities based on what matters eternally is going to be challenging. There are so many distractions from birth to death, from things external to ourselves and even our own thoughts, our own battles with our earthly nature which focuses in our wants, our desires, our own sense of what brings us pleasure and/or peace.
As I get older – it is less being distracted by pleasure and fun; rather, I find myself distracted by aches and pains, and longing for freedom from them. Paul’s words are so… accurate…
5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:1-4 (NIV)
While the groans are now more physical, in our youth the groans were those of frustration. Either we didn’t get what we wanted, and groaned as we compared reality to our dreams; or we groaned because we achieved those dreams, and found them empty, But the groans were there as well, and I am sure that those a little older than me find some days as full of groans as well. Those groans of course, are but a reaction to those things that draw us away from the promises given to us, the relationship that we struggle to walk in – as we have to ask why things happen to us.
The struggle to live life with an eternal outlook, and make decisions and act based on that with eternal significance is our relationships with sinners. Not just the sinners out there- but the sinners here. The sinners around you. Paul notes the change that occurs, when we see things spiritually, eternally, in the last paragraph.
5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NIV)
It is easy to look at someone, and based on either generalizations, or indeed, on past actions, and consider them from a worldly point of view – that is, they are jerks or idiots or other names you have created to avoid cursing. Yet, an eternal perspective looks at those people, and realizes that when Jesus says from the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do, He was talking about them.
Oh and he was talking about you as well.
But these people are the kind that can distract us, as we look at them with human, earthly eyes, and they challenge our ability to look at things, knowing as we do, that God has cleansed them or would cleanse them in baptism, even as He cleanses himself! Gosh we want them to receive what they are due! That tells us that we also get distracted from this view, when we catch ourselves being distracted, and take our frustrations, either on ourselves, or… on them.
So where is our hope?
Overcoming that challenge…by pleasing God
There is a secret to life, and to death, to all of eternity. A secret which helps us maintain our proper outlook on life, a viewpoint from which our decisions get things right eternally.
It is really simple, at least in Paul’s words,
5:8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 2 Corinthians 5:8-9 (NIV)
It is a well known phrase – that Christianity is less a religion, that it is a relationship. (Of course Lutherans ask the question- why can’t it be both?) If we look at the commandments of scripture as duties, we reduce it only to solely a religion. We have to understand that pleasing God comes from being with Him, being His children as we walk besides Him during life.
On father’s day perhaps – we get this the most – those of us without Father’s – realize how much we miss them – it doesn’t matter if it is a week or a decade. Those of us who have children realize how much we miss them – whether they are five, or fifty. This is the day when were wonder if we’ve went wrong, and/or look for evidence of how good we have been as a father.
If a earthly father rejoices in time with His children, then how much more our heavenly father would? Isn’t that what heaven will be about, being home with the Lord? Feasting with Him, spending time with Him – this isn’t about commandments for commandments sake – its about being with our Father, about pleasing Him, about sharing our lives, and sharing His work. Yes, He knows about your sin, and about the doubts, and hurts that need to be healed. He gives you His Spirit to help you heal, to help you realize the promise, to remind you that you are His child – here or there. He brings you comfort…when all there is, is tears.
He is there.
Pleasing Him, seeing what He desires fulfilled – except our heavenly Father doesn’t want a cold beer while watching a baseball game… He wants to see all His children come home, to realize that even while we apart from Him, we are still His… and because we are, because the Spirit assures us of His promise….
We can live either place…. Walking with Him… pleasing Him… sharing our life, lived in His peace…
Devotional Discussion thought of the day!
You wake up, role over, hit the snooze alarm, and get out of bed to creaks and groans – not just you voice, but it seems the muscles groan as well… It’s Tuesday, and you wonder how your body will make it to Friday – you body know this as well – why do you think it groans and aches and cracks and creeks!
It’s not always just physical either – if Monday slams home the (false) reality that breaks our restful break from life that is Sunday…Tuesday makes us wonder if we’ll make it to our next sabbath rest! Tuesdays, especially overcast ones like this morning.. ugghhh will this week drag on! It seems like all of Creation is groaning – and yes it is…. so says Paul!
8:20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Romans 8:20-23 (NLT)
The futility we know is just physical, as I noted above – in some ways it is very spiritual. How do we survive? I believe it is as we are reminded by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – as we are giving foretastes of our future glory, as we are awakened from spiritual slumber and see the glory of God revealed.
One of my favorite authors speaks of such:
” The world is waiting for us to wake up those who are asleep, to encourage the timid, to guide those who have lost their way; in other words, for us to enroll them in the ranks of Christ….. (Escriva, Josemaria . Furrow )
If we need a reminder of the glory that awaits us, such is easily seen as people are woken up, as they are freed from the burdens of their own sin, as they are healed from the sins committed against them, as they too learn to forgive. As they realize they are welcome in the presence of God, as God comes to them and makes them part of His family.
The joy of that moment – that rebirth and renewal as they are baptized (TIt 3:2-6) that moment when they realize the promises of Christ are theirs – as they realize that He does come to them and sups with them… such are the foretastes of glory, as the Spirit reminds us…”you are mine…”
And Tuesdays, we realize, are as full of mercy and grace.. and His resting/basquing in His love… as Sundays…
Godspeed you through this week!