1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. — 2 Cor. 5:1-4 NIV
This is the hope that we have. One day, all that is dead and dying will be done away with These mortal bodies will be left behind for immortal images. These perishing, fleshly bodies will be exchanged for the image of God. In the meantime, there are burdens to bear and temptations to overcome. Since the day Adam and Eve committed the original sin, we have been dying. Not only us, but everything that God had created to last forever was now infected with the deadly disease of sin. All of creation would groan under the burden anxiously awaiting a Savior. When Jesus was resurrected from the grave, the spiritual restoration could begin. We, who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, are being restored and sanctified daily. Still, we groan with all of creation awaiting the full restoration. We should spend that time rejoicing, singing His praises and telling His story to a lost and dying world. We are being transformed from glory to glory to glory to victory. We are to be watchmen on the wall alerting those around us to the dangers they face. Look up and shout! Jesus is coming and all this death will be swallowed up by life!
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” — 1 Cor. 15:51-55 NIV
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. 4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. 5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.–2 Thess. 1:2-6 (NLT)
Most Christians in the Western World have not experienced the kind of persecution to which Paul is referring. Probably the worst persecution that we receive is losing (temporarily, hopefully) the friendship of someone close to us because of our belief in the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here, Paul is talking about those early Christians who gave their lives for the Gospel. I would guess that most of us have wondered, at some time or other, how far we would go for the Gospel. Would I really lay down my life for Jesus? Let’s look at Romans 8;10 (NCV): 10 Your body will always be dead because of sin. But if Christ is in you, then the Spirit gives you life, because Christ made you right with God. Since this is true, we should consider our physical bodies already dead. But our Spirit will always be alive because of what Jesus did for us at Calvary. So, if we are attempting to live the lifestyle that Jesus wants us to, isn’t the decision already made? We agreed to die with Christ and mortify (put to death) our fleshly desires so that we will be raised with Christ in our new immortal bodies. It is all about faith and trust. Will God do what He said or not? The answer is “Yes, of course, He will.” In His mercy, He will protect and perfect us and in His justice, He will repay the persecutors. “19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,” says the Lord.–Romans 12:19 (NCV). Our part is to love and obey and leave the rest to God.