6So we are confident always, and we know that while we are in the body, we are away from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith and not by sight. 8But we are confident though we would prefer to be away from the body and to be with the Lord. 9Therfore our ambition is to please him, whether with the Lord or away from him. 10Because all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one might receive what is deserved for the acts done in the body, whether good or bad. — 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Yesterday we talked about how, as Christians, we are torn between here and there. There’s the pull of two kingdoms, but this one is familiar, so there is a bit of a tendency to cling to it. But faith shows us what is truly important.
Paul sometimes takes a while circling around his point before he gets there, and this is one of those times. We remain confident in God, he says, even though we’re far from him. The reason for that is that we are seeing through the eyes of faith and not with just our physical eyes. The very thing that keeps us torn between the two kingdomsâ€”our spiritual sightâ€”also keeps us confident in God. We can see what is to come.
I really didn’t really get a good picture of what this meant until the time that James had surgery to remove his lungs. I had committed to go to Springfield UMC to teach on prophecy for four weeks. Perry, whom most readers of these devotionals know, told me he wasn’t going to withdraw the invitation and free me to stay home that way, but he would understand if I thought I couldn’t make it.
I felt that I was supposed to go. Now it wasn’t hard to teach. Teaching a group of people who are actively praying and reaching out for more of the Lord is a joy. The hard part was driving to Panama City. For me that was about 2 Â½ hours of torture. I would live through it by playing songs of the kingdom on the CD player.
Now those who know me well know that music is not my primary form of worship. One time just as I had arrived in Panama City, Jody and James called me, and I missed the first couple of tries. When I explained that the music was too loud, they were stunned! I never listen to music that loud. But I was listening to the worship group we met in Hungary, and the song was â€œSinging with the Saints.â€
â€œYou may think it’s a dream, but it ain’t. I’ll be singing with the saints.â€ There were times listening to that song when I thought I could feel the grass of heaven’s fields under my feet. Everything’s going to be alright then!
But what type of people are we going to be? For some Christians everything is about what we’ll be when we get to heaven. It’s all about then. And there is certainly a wonderful hope waiting for us. We can indeed be confident and hopeful.
But Paul is telling us to get started now, that whether we are here or there it is our honor to please God. While we aren’t going to be perfect people here, we are to be God-pleasing people.
Whether we are here on earth, or there in heaven, we are to be the same type of peopleâ€”kingdom people, seeking to please God, and conscious of the fact that everything we do must stand eventually in judgment before God.
There’s something else though, and it’s a precious promise. Look who’s judgment seat it is: the judgment seat of Christ. The one who paid the penalty will be our judge. How can you lose when the judge is your advocate and has already paid your penalty?
That’s the great news of the gospel. Here or there, you can’t lose. It’s no dream!