While You Wait
Chaplain Ron Suarez, MDiv, CTCA/Southwestern Regional Medical Center
Being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight); we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:6-9
Previously in this passage, Paul related to us that this life we travel is like the Israelite's wilderness wanderings. As one roams the desert, the fabric of their tents goes thin from exposure to the sun. Eventually, the patches become more numerous then original materials. We are reminded by the Israelite's wanderings that eventually there comes a time to shed the tattered tent and finally move into the permanent house God is building for us. We are also reminded that our permanent structure, or body, in heaven will never need repair. Like the flimsy tents we occupy down here, the rain will not rot the eaves; the foundation will not sag in the middle; and the wind will not howl through the tent flap.
While you wait
Now these things should inspire hope in the heart of the Christian, because Paul says in verse 7 that "we walk by faith and not by sight." But faith in what? Those who trust Jesus have faith that things will not always be as they are.
If you talk to a person who has attempted suicide, they'll tell you they had no hope. They believed, in their anguish, that things would never change, and the suffering they faced would just go on and on. So they thought suicide was the only hope of escape of their pain. But Paul says that we have faith. We have faith that we will not always inhabit this tent of suffering; we aren't doomed to live a life of endless toil or doomed to see our loved ones suffer endlessly in this life. There is a better time coming; we have faith that we will live in an eternity beyond this life.
So does that mean, therefore, that I should hasten the day of my departure from this abode? I think not. Paul comes to the conclusion in verse 9 that since we live by faith and there is a life unseen beyond this existence, "we also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto him." So what is it, then, that makes our lives pleasing to God? This sounds like a very simple question, but I bet if you ask 10 people, you'll probably be lucky if even 2-3 people give the same answer. My answer to them, as it is to you today, is that the purpose, or rather, the aim of you life, should be to live a life of obedience and submission that will glorify God.
So, then, the reason we continue on living, when it would be so easy to just give up on this world and go live in heaven, is that this is our time to show God how much we love Him through our obedience. You see, this is the only time we have to show God the content of our heart. In this life, you show God how much you love Him when you're faced with suffering, debt, and temptation. This life is a test to see if you will be obedient to God and if you truly desire to worship God for all eternity
Now I wish I could tell you at this point that being obedient is fun, painless and won't cost you anything, but we all know that would be a lie. In reality, the only thing that will enable you to endure the suffering that comes with obeying God is the desire to be well pleasing to God because of your love for Him.
It's truly amazing what we will endure when we love something. A person who loves to go camping has the mindset that you're not really roughing it if you’re not suffering. My 16-year-old nephew and his dad will go camping in the rain, snow, freezing weather. They don't care because they love it. I can't say that I really camp, because I put conditions on what I'll endure.
Well, being obedient to God is the same mindset. If you love God, you'll not put any restrictions on what you'll do for him. If you love God, you will do anything in this life He calls you to do, no matter how hard, no matter what amount of suffering it might bring you and no matter what the physical cost may be.
We are also obedient to God, no matter what the cost, because Paul asserts in verse 10 that: For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Now what Paul is talking about here is not a scale were your good deeds are weighed against your bad, but, rather, the fact that our deeds show what kind of people we are. One day we will all stand before him and give an account of how our bodies and actions proved our allegiance to God. Verse 3 says at that time, we will either be found naked, without any works of repentance, or clothed with our heavenly bodies. Under that Judge, there will be no lying, twisting of facts, or perjury. God will see us for who we really are and cast from His presence those who refused to serve him.
Are you confident of what God will say about you on that last day? The Bible states that the clothes of our good deeds are as "filthy rags" (Is. 64.6). Our only hope, then, is to trust that Christ is God and that His perfect work on the cross is a perfect substitute for our sinfulness, so when God looks at us on that last day, He will see Christ's perfect life and works instead of our own filthy rags.