Wednesday, June 10th 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

So we are always confident; even though 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 do have confidence, 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 all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.  2 Corinthians 5:6-10

 

Certain passages of scripture are difficult for me.  Two pieces of these four verses hold such difficulty.

 

Yes, there is a deep confidence in these verses.  Yes, we do walk by faith rather than by sight as children of God and there is deep comfort in that.  There is the assurance that we don’t have to see the end of the trail to know we are following the right path.  There is the promise that there is more to life, more to our destiny in Christ, than the difficulties we experience in life today.

 

But the dark side of such confidence is the temptation to quit.  To bail out.  It is the temptation to despair and hopelessness for this life.

 

The other troublesome passage is the reminder of our scheduled(?) appearance before the judgment seat of Christ and the declaration that, once there, we will get what we deserve based on the good or evil we’ve done in this life.

 

Here too is cause for despair.  This is how I saw the faith before I came to faith.  This is how Christianity worked for me as a child – God was like Santa, he saw everything and only gave me good things when I did good things.  All was right with God if I was nice, and all I got from God was bad if I was naughty.

 

99% of the time I was naughty.

 

But then I discovered this good news called “grace.”  I discovered that the mercy of God would trump the justice of God.  And I discovered that, when Jesus came to do for us what we cannot and will not do for ourselves, I was included in that number.  And everything changed for me.  My life, my passions, my goals, my future.

 

But I’m still naughty.

 

Lutheran theology helped me there.  It pointed out passages like Romans 7 and wrapped it in a doctrine called “simul ustus et peccator” which holds the tension that we all experience as being wholly both saint and sinner, naughty and nice, at the same time.

 

But then Paul tells me again that there is a big ledger book in heaven with a full list of my merits and demerits.  I’m pretty sure which column will turn out longer.  And again comes the temptation to despair.

 

Until I think about my children.  Nothing could stop me from loving my children and my stepchildren.  Even the list of their demerits.  And, I hope at least, that it would bring them joy to know that they can live their lives in such a way that will also bring joy to their parents.  But we’re here to help them grow up.  Being “graceful” parents does not mean that anything goes or that everything is OK.  It means being honest parents, helpful parents, self sacrificing parents.

 

Which changes everything and drives the despair away.  Because it allows me to see that moment before the judgment seat as the time for my last confession, the final experience of clearing the air, knowing that Christ truly and deeply knows me – and welcomes me home anyway.

 

That vision, strangely enough, makes THIS life holy and worthwhile.  Heaven can wait even as we strive for it each day.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, sustain us in the midst of the difficulties of this life with the promise of your presence and the hope of your love.  Forgive us our shortcomings and our fears, fill us with purpose and power to live fully and freely.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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