One of 19th-century hymn writer John R. Sweney’s gospel songs begins, Strike our tents, the night is over! / See, the shadows one by one / Fade before the coming splendor / Of the morning’s golden sun.
Perhaps Sweney was thinking of today’s passage when he penned these words. Paul, who was a tentmaker by trade, calls the body “the earthly tent we live in” and assures his readers that “when it is destroyed we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (v. 1). The indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee of this promise (v. 5). He calls the Spirit a “deposit,” a Greek term that appears in contemporary writings to refer to earnest money paid in advance to someone to show that the rest will follow.
This assurance gave Paul confidence when he despaired of life because it meant that the worst that could happen would only usher him into the Lord’s glorious presence. Although he was not eager to die, Paul’s preference was “to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (v. 8). With such hope, why would Paul even want to remain? The awareness that all must one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ motivated him to “try to persuade others” (v. 11).
Paul saw himself as an agent of reconciliation. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he summarized his message by stating the facts about Christ (1 Cor. 15:3–8). Here the apostle expresses it in terms of God’s intent: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (v. 20). Reconciliation is possible only because Jesus Christ took our sin upon Himself (v. 21).
>> Have you been reconciled to God? There is only one way. Accept Jesus’ payment on your behalf. You will be made righteous and receive the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.
Lord God, reconcile us to You; no longer count our sin against us, but make us new. We accept Your Son, Jesus Christ, who became sin for us, and ask to become Your righteousness.