June 13, 2016

The Old Tent Called Home

Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:1b

Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1b | Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | We have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:1b

Homes and mansions or castles are vastly different. Take for example, Hearst Castle with its marble statuaries mirrored in a reflecting pool; or the Vanderbilt Estate; Buckingham Palace, the home of British Royalty; Warrick Castle; and the Forbidden City in Beijing, the residence of Chinese Emperors. One of the most beautiful dwelling places in all the world would surely be Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, with fountains spewing forth water in crystalline streams. Then contrast living there with what you call home. Would you trade the warmth of your fireplace or your favorite nook in the family room, for life in a palace or castle? It’s not even tempting to me, to say nothing of thinking about the cost of repairs or taxes, should you be given a palace.

On one occasion I talked with a man who bought a house with 15 bedrooms. Every three months, his wife moved them into another bedroom. Think what a challenge to locate your favorite slippers which got kicked under one of the beds. “Was it bedroom #15, or bedroom #5 where I lost them?” you would ask yourself, trying to remember where you last saw them.

Mansions and homes are vastly different. “Home,” said the American poet Robert Frost, “is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” About 1820 an American ex-patriot, John Howard Payne, sitting at his window watched people rushing home at the end of the day and began thinking of the home where he had grown up. Nostalgia filled his heart. Taking pen and ink, he wrote, “Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, / Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home! / A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there, / Which, seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.”

On one occasion, Jesus must have been thinking of the home He left behind when He came to Planet Earth, because he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he talked about living life here, dwelling in a tent—bringing to mind the shepherds’ tents, made of goat and sheep skins. As a tent maker by trade, Paul knew that the tents cooked by brilliant sun and sandblasted by the harsh elements could withstand only so much, and then they needed repairs. But eventually, no matter how skillful the craftsman who repaired it, the old tent wore out and had to be abandoned.

So Paul wrote, “We have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). One of the strange anomalies about life is that most of the time we never think about the transitory nature of life. And then, unexpectedly, something happens—you lose a dear friend whom you deeply loved, or the doctor shocks you with the news that you have cancer, or you are involved in an automobile accident—and then, like a slap in the face, reality says, “You will not live forever in the four walls you call home.”

In the past few weeks, I have been challenged with the loss of someone I have loved, and every time it’s a sober reminder that life at its longest is short, very short.

What do you do when you realize, “This old tent is getting pretty worn and weathered?” Often people say, “I don’t know how people face death who do not know the Lord.” I do. I’ve been there with them. It isn’t pleasant. Without the assurance that you have an eternal home, one not made with human hands, it’s dark—very dark. More on how to have the assurance of a heavenly home on our next edition of Guidelines.

Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10