Guest post from Glen…
Imagine this: You book your dream holiday destination. You can’t quite believe it. It fronts directly onto the beach. Right from your bedroom you have panoramic views of the sparkling water and gleaming white sands. And it’s cost you next to nothing. You’re amazed you’ve managed to pick up such a bargain. You arrive at your destination, full of hope and there is your accommodation: a tent. Is that what you expected?
Everything depends on your expectations. Did you realise you’d signed up for a camping holiday? Or did you imagine it would be a 5-star hotel? What were you expecting? If you expected the Ritz, you will mutter and moan and complain to the manager. If you expected camping, then even if it’s a flimsy, one-man tent, you might just have the best weekend of your life. It’s all about expectations. Happiness, they say, is reality minus expectations. If you can see through your expectations, your outlook changes dramatically.
In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul speaks of our present bodily life as an “earthly tent”. Our future resurrection life, though, will be “a building from God, an eternal house.” Right now we’re camping. Soon though, it’s the Ritz.
According to Paul our expectations are both too high and too low. When we expect our earthly life to be trouble free—to live to 112 and die peacefully in our sleep—then we’ve set the bar too high. We’re bound to be disappointed. But when we make our future hope into that job or that relationship or that earthly circumstance, we’ve set the bar too low. We ought to expect nothing less than heaven on earth. But we mustn’t expect heaven on earth now. Now it’s camping. Soon, though, we’ll move to 5-star accommodation.
Doesn’t this help us with our disappointments? When we are disappointed by our health (or lack of it), our wealth (or lack of it), our work situation, our romantic lives, our families, can we say to ourselves, The tent is leaking, the wind is howling, the food is terrible, but the 5-star accommodation is coming.
When I taught on this passage on Sunday I came up with a rhyme for the children to learn. It’s a truth we could all take to heart:
It’s just a tent, it’s not for long,
We’ll soon be home, where we belong.
Hear the full sermon here.