Some people like camping. Some people love camping. But I’m not one of them. Sure, I’ve got plenty of fond memories of setting up a tent in the backyard or by the beach. And just as many memories of lying on rocks, breathing smoke from campfires, and meeting friendly mosquitoes.
Okay, so maybe camping isn’t that bad. But would you choose to live in a tent instead of a house? Sure, a tent can be okay for a weekend, but eventually the ropes start to loosen, the canvas will sag, and the weather just can’t be kept out.
When he was Prime Minister (in 1993), Paul Keating said, ‘If you’re not living in Sydney, you’re just camping out.’ But God’s message to us today is, ‘If you’re not in heaven, you’re just camping out.’ Here in 2 Corinthians, God tells us that our present bodies are temporary, but in heaven we will have permanent bodies so that we can live with Him forever.
That challenges so much of how we think. We don’t think much about death or heaven, unless we’re really sick! Do we live like everything we have here is temporary? I suspect that for most of us, even if we’re Christians, we invest far more time and energy into material things that will not last. That’s materialism, and its roots go down deep into our hearts.
Now, if we’ve thought about that for very long, we might have concluded that God’s only interested in spiritual stuff. If that’s right, then we’ve only got one opportunity to really enjoy life (1 Corinthians 15:32)! If we think that, we’ve fallen for dualism: that the idea that the body and the spirit are opposites, that physical things are always bad and spiritual things are always good, and so death means leaving our bodies behind forever.
The problem with both materialism and dualism is this: They aren’t how God made the world, or us! Here, Paul tells us that God made us to live our physical lives now for His glory (4:13-18), and to live forever with Him (5:1-10). Our lives will be completely different when we know what God has made us for.