“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” — 2 Corinthians 5:1
Though every human being will eventually die, the thought of death often seems unacceptable to us. Death is a universal dilemma. We often soften the topic with euphemisms like “passing away” or “being promoted to glory,” but these hopeful perspectives do not take away from death’s tragic nature. The death of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences we can go through, which contributes to the many fears and uncertainties surrounding death.
Scripture makes it clear, however, that our bodies are not meant to be permanent dwellings. Paul calls our earthly bodies “tents,” which carries with it the idea of being temporary, transient and flimsy. Our bodies are made up of the recycled materials we once ate, drank or breathed—a bit of recycled beef here, some recycled bananas there. When our bodies cease to function, our physical atoms will find their way back into the food chain and become part of something else.
For all who believe in Christ, there is a far richer dwelling for which we will one day exchange our earthly bodies. Paul describes our heavenly bodies as “an eternal house in heaven.” Where our earthly bodies are temporary and frail, our heavenly bodies will be eternal and secure. Paul says this makes us restless: “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).
Many are afraid to die because they only know the experience of the earthly tent. They do not have the hope of life after death or receiving a redeemed heavenly body. Belief in Christ, who is Himself the resurrection and the life, is the key to that hope. Until we are ready to die, we are not free to really live because lurking in the background will be a fear of death. But by believing in Christ and having received His Spirit, we are equipped to live confidently and courageously in whatever task God calls us to because we know our eternal destiny is secure.
As Billy Graham, the great evangelist who died a few years ago, once said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” This life and tent are not all there is; one day, all who believe will have new, heavenly bodies to enjoy life with Christ for eternity.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, death was never Your intention, but thank You that because of Your work on the cross and Your life in me, I no longer have a reason to fear death.