“Always of Good Courage”
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
The 4th Sunday after Pentecost (B) 6/17/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL
Thanks be to God that we have before us for our consideration this morning a much-needed perspective, a clear perspective, and most importantly, a true one, recorded here in St. Paul’s second letter to the Church at Corinth.
Not that this isn’t the case with the apostle’s other letters or all of Holy Scripture for that matter. In it all, through it all, we are given the one perspective that matters in your life and mine… namely, God’s… that which is perfect and divine… that which is and will be. Guaranteed… sure and certain.
Indeed, what comfort it is that in God’s Holy Word we are told, we are reminded of what is and what is not. What is real and what is not. What is important and what is not. What is lasting and eternal and what is not. Things which you and I, caught up as we are in our everyday lives, can so easily forget. A right perspective of which we can so easily lose sight. That which Satan, this world and our own sinful flesh can so easily distort, causing anxiety and despair and the real possibility of being led astray.
Actually, the perspective given to us here in our text is quite simple – it is one of where we are today and will be yet for a little while here on earth versus where we will tomorrow, namely in heaven with our Lord and with all the saints in glory.
It could literally be tomorrow. It will definitely be some day… some tomorrow. And the right perspective has us wanting it to be today… to be with the Lord in heaven… today! This minute, if it is God’s will.
As St. Paul reminds us in this text, as Christian men and women, we would rather be away from these mortal bodies of ours and be at home with the Lord.
But is that the case? Or have we gotten so caught up in the worldly and the things of this world, in our own little world, that we would rather stay in this world than be with the Lord in heaven… than be in paradise… than be free from sin and all that it brings including pain and suffering, illness and disease, heartache, hunger, want, loneliness, disappointment and a myriad of other things that plague us and others now in time.
It is not that we should hate our earthly lives and want to die. By no means! God has graciously given us this precious time… He has given us life… life that starts here one earth… life that, by His grace, flourishes here on earth… life that bears much fruit all to the glory of God for however long the Lord allows… the total number of days that have been set… divinely preset for all of us to live, as Paul says, in these “tents” … our earthly bodies. Never forget my friends, that tents are portable homes perfect for sojourning here below. They are not a permanent dwelling… eternal and everlasting… that which will be given to us at the Resurrection… the glorified bodies that we will enjoy forever in paradise.
My friends, for the time being… your time, my time, our time here on earth… it is… ours is… always a life lived out in the here and now as we faithfully worship and serve the Lord… but also our lives lived out in the there and then… namely in the shadow of the cross and what once took place for us men and for our salvation… and also the there and then as to what will soon be, so very soon… ours… us… in eternity.
Such is our “trinitarian perspective” if you will of what was, what is, and what will soon be.
That which soon takes place as, in Paul’s words, the mortal is “swallowed up by life” … the mortal… you and I… soon taking on, permanently putting on… immortality… as we shed these earthly tents.
The Apostle goes on to remind us that “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.” (2 Corinthians 5:5-6)
We are always of good courage as the Holy Spirit reminds us that in Christ Jesus, all is well… that in Christ Jesus, all could not be better in terms of what divinely, thankfully, has taken place… of what is divinely, thankfully now the case for us in Jesus, through Jesus… and what will soon take place… our leaving these mortal bodies and putting on of our permanent ones, perfect and holy.
We are always of good courage even though death and destruction all around we see. Even though our sojourn here on earth in these increasingly worn and torn tents of ours is quite challenging and downright difficult at times. Even though the immediate path ahead for us seems fraught with peril, with one obstacle after another. We are always of good courage.
And this as we step back and are, again and again, given the right perspective, the true perspective of it all… of what was, is now, and soon will be. Guaranteed… sure… and certain.
It is the perspective, right perspective, true perspective available to us exclusively in Christ’s Body, the Holy Christian Church.
Take a moment and look what you can see from your vantage point. Look at what is right in front of you. You see the cross. You see the lectern and this pulpit. You see the baptismal font and the altar with the Holy Supper prepared and waiting.
These things constantly give you good courage. Word and Sacrament give you good courage, real courage, lasting courage… to meet this day and all remaining days ahead.
Make no mistake about it. It is Christ and Christ alone, my friends, who gives us courage in the day-to-day, the hour by hour… in the here and now and whatever lies ahead. He who is the Word incarnate. He who instituted Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. He whose Spirit is always upon us. Most certainly, He… Jesus… who is always with us!
So let us now move on, push on fighting the good fight of faith, not giving into despair… not giving into the ways, the thinking, the mindset of the world, our society and the prevailing culture. God’s Word is crystal clear regarding the same. We read, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:18-21)
Indeed, we have every reason to… to be of good courage… to rejoice now and always of what is ours in Christ Jesus. Amen!