Can You See Tomorrow?

written by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (September 11, 2023)

The way we see tomorrow determines how we live today. At least Paul thought so. As did Jesus.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, we find Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, confident in tomorrow despite the tremendous difficulties of the day. I pray we do the same.

These verses teach us most directly of our future life in heaven, after our death. But they also teach us to recognize the temporary nature of today's challenges.

In the preceding verses of 4:7-18, Paul reflected on how God received glory by placing the transforming treasure of the gospel in an ordinary, fragile, earthen clay jar. You have one: it's your mortal body. Now, in 5:1, Paul transitions from the metaphor of the body as a clay jar to that of a tent. A provisional, vulnerable, mobile tent. Yet, though our bodies are temporary and fragile, we have been charged to carry the gospel to a world that is broken and dying without Christ. 

Despite our circumstances, we have a purpose: to worship and glorify God. Despite our weaknesses, we have a mission: to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all peoples, making disciples who make disciples. 

Our purpose and mission do not change simply because we experience difficulties while in a fragile state. No, these challenges best allow God to demonstrate His glory as He uses us as His instruments. These truths are evident for the individual Christian as well as the body of Christ, His Church.

Paul knew a little about tents. He worked as a tentmaker to support himself in order to preach the gospel. He knew that even the best tents were temporary. Perhaps he had the Tabernacle in mind as he wrote, thinking of the Israelites wandering around the wilderness, moving into and eventually occupying the promised land with the Ark of the Covenant. 

The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, given to Moses in two tablets, to teach the Israelites of God's holiness and how they were to relate to Him and others. The Ark also contained Aaron's staff that had budded and manna that had been provided for sustenance while in the desert. These items reminded the Israelites that God had rescued them from slavery and provided for their every need. Both the Ark and the Tabernacle were to facilitate worship while pointing to a better day ahead. 

With these things in mind, we're reminded, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Co 5:7). Our circumstances and the perceived limitations to change them often make us feel helpless. But we're far from being helpless. Our future - both in heaven and on earth - is in the Lord's hands when we put our faith in Him.

With a view to the future, Paul spoke of the transition from the body as a tent to that of a permanent temple. "For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. (5:1)" In other words, we know that when our life in this body is over and at Christ's return, we will be given a new body equipped for eternity in "new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13). 

With a view to the future, Jesus fulfilled His earthly ministry. In doing so, He provides both a model and goal for us. Hebrews 12:1-2 exhorts us, “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Knowing what God has in store for us in heaven - our tomorrow - should help us live a life of joy and praise today regardless of circumstances. Furthermore, knowing that God has planned good for us, both as individuals and gathered Christians, should encourage us to stay focused on the mission at hand today, despite the challenges we face in our weak and broken state. 

Can you see tomorrow? No worries, "for we walk by faith, not by sight." God has got this!