Friday, August 31, 2007

To be swallowed up in eternal life

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will
put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

This was New Testament reading today and it blew me away. This is Paul at his eloquent best, and personally I found it deeply moving today.

Look how he begins, reminding us that our faith is a faith shared through the generations and the basis that it gives for our future hope. Look at the foundation of our endurance-the grace of God drawing more and more people into his kingdom. “That is why,” says Paul, “we never give up.” Even though everything around might scream, “give up”, our spirits are renewed and we go on, looking forward into the future that God has planned for us. An eternal future that puts our present troubles in perspective.

And here’s a great phrase, “We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life.” That’s a great picture. One day eternal life will consume us.
Out of all this comes our desire to please God, and so “we live by believing and not by seeing.”
Maybe it’s just today and the spiritual place in which I find myself, but these words seem to soar with a majesty that draws me into thanksgiving for the goodness, the grace, the wonder of all that God has done for me, is doing for, and will do for me.

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