Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
I did not grow up camping. My mom and dad grew up on farms and thought going to the woods was not what they wanted to do. My dad’s idea of camping was “roughing it” at a hotel that only had a black and white TV with no remote. Being an outside girl camping allured me.
Randy’s family DID grow up camping. They went to a beautiful place (and still do) for fishing, boating, swimming and hiking. Randy taught me the love of camping. We still do it today with a pop up tent camper. It’s old (like us) but it still works. We enjoy being in the woods for awhile but we both know we wouldn’t want to live there. We are just camping.
There comes a moment in the days of camping that there is only so much nature you can attach to your body and clothes. I am talking about the dirt that won’t wash off because of the temporary conditions. Only when you go home can you get everything clean again.
Then there are those pesky mosquitoes who love having me for lunch and supper. They constantly bite me to the point the salve to relieve the itching is gone. Then I’m left defenseless. I go home and finally heal completely.
Let’s talk about the rains that come to make our temporary camp site miserable and wet. Sometimes we have to change camp sites because of flooding. Yes, that has happened to us, too! We pray for the sun to come out and dry up the canvas and ground around it so we won’t keep tracking in mud into our makeshift living pad. The sun does come out eventually and all is well, just dirty. We go home and all is clean and bright.
Camping for me is constantly cleaning something so we can use it again. Mm, maybe I don’t like camping as much as I say I do. (Smiling) What keeps us going is the beauty we see around us, the lake to swim and boat, the woods to hike, the peace without electronics to distract us, the sun on our faces, and the alone time with God to speak to our hearts away from the busyness of life at home and work. But it is only temporary. We are just camping…until we go home.
Paul talks about a bigger concept of just camping. We are the temporary tents that eventually are folded up and taken home AND replaced with a permanent God-made, brand new, clean and bright, resurrection body! Here, on earth, we are just camping…
2 Corinthians 5, The Message
1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
6-8 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
9-10 But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
11-14 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
A New Life
14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.
What do we learn and rely upon?
—“He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”
–“It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”
–“But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.”
–“If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.”
–“Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone.”
–“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look.”
—“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.”
–“All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.”
–“God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives.”
–“Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”
We are challenged. We are just camping here to prepare for there…with a task. As believers, we are the “park rangers” of this world in which we are just camping, just passing through. We are the ambassadors of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We represent His forgiveness because He forgave us. We show His love because He loved us first. We do everything we can to have peace in relationships because He is peace. Yes, we are just camping now…with a “little bit of heaven in our hearts.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the promise of heaven…home. Thank you for preparing a place for me and for others who believe. Continue to transform me, getting me ready to fold up what is temporary for what will be forever. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen