The Tent

Our homes on this earth are only temporary

“…We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

When Saint Paul describes our earthly home in the second letter to the Corinthians, he doesn’t describe a mansion, or a dwelling made with bricks, stone, or wood. Rather, he describes a tent.desert-tent

A tent is typically a temporary structure, usually one that is portable. As such, it’s an appropriate metaphor for our life on this earth: transitory, finite, fleeting.

This flies in the face of the world’s “wisdom”: obtain as much as you can by whatever means possible, because this life is all that matters. To the Christian, it’s just the opposite: keep your possessions and your worries to a minimum, as all that matters is our service to God as we make our pilgrimage to our heavenly home.

The tent metaphor has several lessons for us:

Travel light. Possessions – and the pursuit of money to obtain them – tend to separate us from God, rather than bringing us closer. Paul describes himself “as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:10) That should be our attitude, as well.

Be nimble. Flexibility is one of the characteristics of a disciple. God may call us to pack up our tents and move on at any time.

Focus on our heavenly home, rather than our earthly one. Relatedly, we need to keep reminding ourselves that our home is not here, regardless of what our senses and society tell us.

Keep events in perspective. Temporal worries, from our own financial or physical health to global-scale events such as wars and natural disasters, can preoccupy us and distract us from our spiritual life. We should pray and act to affect these situations as best we can. However, worrying about things that are out of our control is counterproductive.

Ultimately, we need to realize that God’s in charge, to put our concerns in God’s hands and to recognize that, as serious as things seem to be at this moment, this world will eventually pass away.

Let’s live in our tents with joy but be ready to pack up and move on when God calls.