2 Corinthians 5:1 “Now 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 hands.”
Tents are temporary shelters. Our family used its last tent for less than 50 evenings over a 10-year span. It’s not much use now. Along the way we had to replace polls, and zippers stopped working, and one seam looked like it could give way at any time.
Is the comparison with our earthly home hard to see? I don’t mean to complain about the generous accommodations God has given us. We are far better fed and sheltered than we deserve. But our lives in this world rarely feel deeply secure. We are no strangers to pain and discomfort. The world can be a cold place. It turns its back on us and leaves us helpless and alone. Relationships go bad. People just don’t care. It can also be a hot place. Problems and pressures press in around us. The “heat” we feel may be meeting the bills, the demands of our employers and deadlines at our work, people who persecute us, or fighting off temptation. Our earthly accommodations can become mighty uncomfortable.
Like a tent, our home in this world is temporary. It is constantly falling apart all around us all the time. My house needs maintenance. My car needs maintenance. Even my lawn is hard to keep alive. And to Paul’s point, my body needs more and more maintenance as it putters and sputters towards total collapse.
As a result, Paul said, “…while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened.” It’s hard. But why should our lives here be this way? We made our world this way with our sin. Every little body ache, family frustration, or office emergency is a reminder that we ourselves are sinners living in a world cursed by sin.
That is why we are longing to take the last step to a better home. “… we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by hands.” Paul describes our heavenly home as a house, a real building. It has all the climate-controlled comforts we desire. When we get there, we will at last know the feeling of safety and security we have always longed to have.
Because it is a solid structure, it isn’t falling apart all around us. It is eternal. Then Paul reveals something that may seem strange to us. The home we are longing for is better because it is “not built by hands.” It is not hand-made. All my life I have been accustomed to thinking that “hand-made” is the best. Hand-made automobiles, hand-made furniture, or hand-made clothing is the highest quality and far better than that stuff made by machine.
Handmade salvation, and handmade heaven, would be an unqualified disaster. Human hands make a mess of these things. But salvation comes with the hands of our Lord Jesus pinned to a cross. When those hands go limp and the life drains from his body, our sin drains away with his life. All is settled between us and heaven there.
Our house in heaven is better than hand-made. It is crafted by the power and perfect precision of God. It is untouched by sin, and untouched by sinners. It is an eternal home, the last one we will ever need.