For an introduction to this series, click here.
Well this has been a terrible weekend. I wasn't gone, just sick. I feel better right now, but that doesn't mean I won't feel worse later. Anyway, the first few verses are very appropriate:
"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened— not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." (5:1-4)
I can certainly feel that groaning right now. It really stinks to be as sick as I was over the weekend. But even when we are feeling fine, it really is a burden to be stuck in this body, or at least it is for me. I'm sure that it will only get worse when we get older.
"He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (5:5-10)
The Judgment Seat of Christ for believers is a topic that is often misunderstood. We will not be punished for our sins; those are already paid for by the blood of Christ. But we will suffer loss of rewards and probably a position in Christ's kingdom if we fall short of what we could have done for the Lord. It is something to be concerned about, in the sense that it spurs us to action, but not something to fear, because we are already accepted as God's children.
Actually, in the passage that follows, Paul does a lot better job explaining the implications of the Judgment Seat of Christ than I could: "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." (5:11-15)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (5:17-21, ESV)
This is one of the most profound passages in the Bible. It explains multiple times what salvation means and what our responsibility is in the world. First of all, we are a new creation. Secondly, we are reconciled to God through Christ. Thirdly, we are given the ministry of reconciliation, to help reconcile others to God. Finally, and this last verse is one of the most profound in the Bible, God made Christ to be sin for us, that we might receive Christ's righteousness.