Who wants to live in a tent as his permanent residence? For a brief vacation in the woods, maybe, for about a week max. Raising four boys, that was the cheapest way for our family to vacation on a budget when they were young.
It was the late fifties and our tent was army surplus olive drab and the six of us crowded into it with sleeping bags. I had to prepare meals on an open fire and wash dishes in the creek! To tell the truth, it took me as the mom and chief-cook-and-bottle-washer way out of my comfort zone, reluctantly away from my modern conveniences.
If we are human, however, we have no choice. We are all tent dwellers; in fact, we are tents! While on earth, no matter how impressive our actual living accommodations, we spend our lives being flimsy tents. That's how the Scriptures describe our mortal bodies.
Our “earth suit” body is a perishable dwelling subject to gradual aging deterioration and vulnerability to any illness or virus that may come along. We are pilgrims always on the move, not settlers; we are sojourners, not permanent residents on this planet, travelers, not colonists. We are just passing through as living tents.
WHAT IS GOING TO PASS AWAY?
To be realistic, EVERYTHING is going to pass away. The WORLD itself is impermanent. Jesus said that heaven and earth will pass away. (Mark 13:31) He could say that with no fear of contradiction because “All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being....” (John 1:3). He created it all in the beginning and He tells us of its sure demise. “The world is passing away and also its passionate desires,” John declared. (1 John 2:17) In his second letter Peter reenforces that thought. (2 Peter 3:7-12) Whatever is visible and tangible will literally pass away. The passing of the earth at the end of days is described by John in detail in Revelation chapter six.
The world's WORKS will pass away by being burned up—all the grand constructions of man's hands and labor through the ages, skyscrapers and cathedrals, castles and condos will be in ashes. And so will MY WORKS and YOURS, whatever you and I have been laboring for all our lives—our possessions, savings, our property, our investments, our creative works. That is, if God judges them to be “wood, hay, or stubble.”
My FRIENDS AND FAMILY are passing away, along with the entire generation in which we live, joining all the generations of humanity that have ever lived in history.
And I am passing away because I am mortal. I am flesh with my five senses that belong to this material, passing world. I will move on from my tent and so will you. We are here on earth for an abbreviated, fleeting but destined moment of time in God's purpose for us. The Word of God describes our finite life in terms of the grass of the field that thrives but for a moment and then is gone.
Are all these thoughts about our transitory, impermanent sojourn too morbid and depressing? Is everything truly “vanity of vanities” as summarized by King Solomon in Ecclesiastes? Absolutely not! God encourages us with His eternal truth about the passing of all things. He assures us of His plan and its redemptive aspect. Our lives are not futile. Our works are not useless in spite of their transiency. There is meaning and design to all of His creation.
SO, WHAT DOESN'T PASS AWAY?
Good news! The HEAVENS AND THE EARTH will become new again! “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away...the first things have passed away...and He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new'…these words are faithful and true” (Revelation 21).
My FRIENDS AND FAMILY—AND ME—AND YOU! We have bodies that pass away eventually, but that is not all there is to us. God breathed into each of us an indestructible soul. We were born for eternity, although our mortal bodies are dust and to dust they will return. My flesh with its earth-senses will pass on and will no longer be seen and touched by other earthlings. However, we will not pass away in the sense of being permanently destroyed. Our soul will pass on.
As we approach the celebration of Easter, listen again as Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25). In the Communion of Saints we are still bonded with our loved ones who have gone on before us. We are forever part of the Body of Christ, the Church, forever alive. And in the resurrection we shall be reunited with our bodies again, as part of the “making all things new” which Jesus promised.
SOME of our WORKS will not pass away either. It is God's will that our good fruit will remain. (John 15:16) If the works that we build upon the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ are like gold, silver and precious stones, they will be revealed and endure. It is God's own plan that those good works will be rewarded. (1 Cor. 3:9-17)
“The things which are seen are temporal,” so let them pass! “But the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 5:18). Our loving God's ETERNAL promises far outweigh the things which will PASS! “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1-9).
We're destined to exchange our fragile tent for an immortal “dwelling from heaven” which Jesus the Risen Christ promised He was going to His Father's House to prepare for each of us. That's something wonderful to celebrate not only at Easter but every day of our tent-lives!
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