As I mentioned yesterday, I recently shared with my church family how we are to be working together with God on mission (2 Cor. 6:1). In that message, I laid out four evangelistic motivations from 2 Cor. 5. The first evangelistic motivation for Paul is the prospect of eternity.
The Prospect of Eternity
In the first nine verses of 2 Corinthians 5, Paul describes our earthly bodies as tents and compares them to a building “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Just a few verses later, Paul talks about being “home in the body” and “home with the Lord.” Clearly, Paul has eternity in view, and compares this life as but a temporary matter compared to eternity with God in our heavenly dwelling.
What are the evangelistic implications of having the prospects of eternity before you? How does that affect how you view people? As we teach our children, God gave us souls that will never die, though this tent (earthly body) is destroyed. At some point, the pegs will loosen, the violent storm of death with overtake this earthly tent. What will happen then? As a tentmaker himself, Paul knew well of the frailty and temporary nature of a tent. Even as he worked in his trade, with each new tent, Paul no doubt had on his mind the lives of men and women around him who did not know God.
It is very easy to go through the day with little thought about eternity. We are caught up in the moment, rarely ever with the ability to have a sustained reflection on how this day fits in the scheme of our lifetime, much less eternity. But when we have the prospect of eternity in view, we look at people differently. We don’t look at them and see rich or poor, black or white, friendly or mean. We look at them as saved or lost, forgiven or condemned, adopted or rebels. And when this happens, eternal realities invade our thoughts and motivations so that we are left with yearning and burden for the “tent city” (if I may use that illustration) soon facing the prevailing the winds of death.
So the first motivation of Paul as seen in 2 Cor. 5:1-9 is the prospect of eternity in light of our human frailty. People think they are invincible; God says they are but a breath. People think their lives have no eternal consequence and therefore should live for the moment; Christians feel the weight of eternity and plead for their souls of those who cannot plead for themselves. People want to have conversations that settle on the surface; Christians settle only for the gospel penetrating hearts to the very core of their being. And this because God has told us that being home in this tent is not our final dwelling place. We are pilgrims, ambassadors, citizens of another kingdom–a kingdom that is established in the hearts of men when the eternal truths of the gospel are embraced by those who have found eternal life in the death-defeating death of Jesus Christ.
Fellow believer, our conversations ought to be singed with the prospect of eternity. If we have nothing weightier to say than what people hear on television or read in the papers, then we are only driving the stakes of their earthly tent into the very soil in which their body will lay in judgment. It is a wake up call for us who face a world making their bed in the deception of their self-determination. May we who long to be “at home with the Lord find our usefulness in working together with God in bringing sinners safely home by way of the cross.