Peter writes that as long as he is “in this tent” (2 Peter 1:13) he needs to remind his readers of certain things. Some scholars think this reflects the Greek idea of an immortal soul living in a mortal body. In fact, there are Christian believers who mistakenly believe that we are souls temporarily using a body. But who we essentially are cannot be partitioned that way. The TEV translation of 1 Thess. 5:23 says that our “whole being” is comprised of “spirit, soul, and body.” The background for Peter’s imagery comes from the nomadic life of the patriarchs of old who were on a journey to the Promised Land. God dwelt in a tent (or tabernacle) and guided them along the way. We too are on a journey; ours is from earth to heaven. We are sojourners and like the patriarchs we are tent-dwellers as we continue toward home.
Since, as the old song has it, “This world is not my home I’m just a-passin’ through,” what does that mean for how we live? I don’t want to sound like a cranky old preacher but the truth is that God’s expectations for us sometimes have a way of making us uncomfortable. Seems to me that the logical implications of being a tent-dweller run something like this: don’t waste all your energy fixing up the old tent; don’t waste time on what is temporary; think about the journey in terms of where it is leading; your Father is there waiting for you (he wants to have a party); don’t take unnecessary side trips; Now you can add yours!
The simple truth is that we were created by and for a God who loves us so much that in the person of his Son gave his very life to save us from the penalty of our own sinfulness. We are the reason why God decided to create in the first place. He wanted a people with whom he could enjoy the deep relationship of love. To imagine an eternity of bliss awaiting the believer certainly rules out any excessive involvement in life here below. Let’s clarify that. Life here on earth is to be lived, as the old gospel song has it, with “eternity’s values in view.” Our choices are made in the light of the fact that earth is temporary and heaven is eternal.
So, fellow tent-dweller: How’s the journey going? Aren’t you glad that before long we’ll all be home!