2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
When Paul speaks of being “at home” in this verse, he is not thinking of a place. The Greek word speaks about being “with our people.” And that is really home, isn’t it? I grew up on southern Minnesota. I will admit that there are things about the geography, the culture, and sometimes even the climate of that place that fill me with a sentimental longing. It still feels very comfortable when I go back there. There is something about it that just fits.
But home is not a place as much as it is the people. My own family is with me in Oklahoma, and that makes this place home. And if my parents or relatives visit, or if we meet up with them at some other place around the country for vacation, there is a great sense of being home then, too.
That’s where we are right now, Paul says. We are at home, with our people, in the body. And it is right for us to cherish those relationships and appreciate the time we spend with our dear ones here. Those people themselves are a great gift from God.
But those people themselves don’t stay with us forever. They move all over the country. As they age, they eventually move on to our home above. Even now they often bring pain into our lives with the way they treat us. And so long as we are here with them, we are away from the Lord.
That is why we are longing to take the last step to our home above, where we will find ourselves in better company. “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” It is better to be at home, “with our people,” with the Lord. My grandparents are already there, and some of my uncles. Many years ago my wife and I thought we might be sending a child on ahead of us. Some of you may have. These people are already there in all the perfection heaven promises.
But better still is the company we will keep with the Lord himself, finally face to face. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate what that will mean for us before we get there. It’s supposed to be the greatest thing about heaven, yet sometimes we may feel a little like the child whose parents excitedly tell him he is going to meet a great aunt he never met. And the child thinks, “Woo-hoo. Another old person with whom I have little in common.” We may not be convinced that seeing God holds that much appeal.
Or maybe it’s all we ever really wanted. Although we can’t fully realize it now, it is the answer to a host of inexpressible longings we can never seem to satisfy while we are here. We try to fill the emptiness with people or things or experiences, but none of them will do, because like Paul, we are longing to take the last step to a better home. There we will find ourselves in better company–in the presence of God himself.