Pastor Chris Royce
Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
Sunday June 20, 2021

“My heart’s just not in it”

I don’t know if that’s a saying that we use often, but it’s something that all of us have felt many times over the course of life. I think of some of the jobs I had before becoming a pastor. Waiter at a restaurant, bartender, golf course attendant, dishwasher, landscaper. The jobs were fine and good, they served me well – but I can’t say I was passionate about these particular things. Many days I clocked in for my shift and my heart just wasn’t in it. Maybe that applies to some of the jobs you used to have. Or maybe you’re frustrated with your work right now, your heart just isn’t in it. You might think of that hobby you used to enjoy. Scrapbooking, gardening, playing an instrument, a sport, card games – whatever. Once upon a time that hobby was your lifeblood. But nowadays, for whatever reason, your heart’s just not in it anymore and these things collect dust. You might think of some relationships. Initially, the friendship or romance was burning – you two were inseparable. And now they’re no longer in the picture. Because for one of you or both of you, the heart just wasn’t in it anymore. You used to love going out to eat at that restaurant, but now you’ve long stopped going. You used to love taking the family to that park or that town or that destination, but now it’s just a memory. You used to love something, but you’ve grown out of it. Your heart just isn’t in it anymore.

I think we generally view this as a negative thing – losing heart. I don’t know of many people who jump with cheer and say “I used to love going to the movie theatre, but now my heart’s just not in it anymore!” – usually, we say this phrase with a sigh and a gloomy look on our face. “You know, I used to love going to movies – but I just don’t find joy in going anymore. I’d rather watch something at home.” Losing heart is generally seen as a sad fact of life. But today, we’re going to flip the script. As we ponder this life God has given us, it’s a blessing and a wonderful life, without question. But ultimately, our heart’s aren’t in it. And that’s a very good thing. As Jesus reminds us, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Our hearts are eager, hopeful, excited about the new life in heaven, the treasures above that God has waiting for each one of us. We go through this life eager to leave it and be with the Lord Jesus. Our hearts are not in this world.

Paul’s heart wasn’t in it, either. Now as I say that, you might be perplexed. You might challenge me and say “Well, right before this, Paul says in 4:16 “therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away…” Wasn’t our focus here these last couple of weeks talking about how committed Paul was to this life and to the ministry of the gospel? Yes, Paul very much ran this race with faithfulness. He considered a privilege to endure whatever persecution for the name of Jesus Christ. But ultimately, Paul’s heart was set on a different location, a different place. It’s right there in verse 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. In verse 1 here, Paul plays out the worst case scenario. He faced no shortage of persecution for being a missionary of Christ. At any point, his life could be lost at the hands of those who want him dead. Even if this worst case scenario happened, Paul knew that it wouldn’t mean defeat. It would be the opposite – victory! Because immediately once this temporary, frail, mortal body would give out in death, he would inherit something new, something better. In one of his other books of the Bible, Paul says this about the subject of dying and heaven: 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.” This body will go from a perishable one to one that will never die. In 2 Corinthians 5, our lesson for today, it says that this body would go from naked to clothed – clothes in robes washed white by Christ’s blood. In this lesson, Paul gives us such a simple, yet effective illustration – we’re going from a tent to a house.

It’s an illustration that we can especially resonate with living out here in the PNW. So many people out here enjoy camping and getting outdoors. I know that there are many people, though, even some in this room – who don’t care at all for camping. It’s uncomfortable, it’s cold, its tiny living quarters, it’s a hassle. You are given the choice of tent vs. house, house wins hands down. Even for those among us who enjoy camping or glamping or whatever, you have to admit that you can only live in a tent for so long before it gets old. It’s the same with our lives here. We have temporary bodies. We live in a temporary place. Just like camping is a temporary activity and you soon look forward to getting back to your warm house, warm bed and all the comforts of home – our time here is temporary. We eagerly look forward to being in our permanent home, heaven. Our hearts just aren’t in this world. Our eyes (what we talked about last week) and our hearts are all set above.

So since our hearts are set on heaven, what’s our attitude as we go through this life? It appears twice in this section, and it might seem strange to you at first, but it’s this – as Christians, we go through life groaning. Here’s what Paul says: Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, / 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. Contrast that with the world. The world doesn’t groan about this life. Billions of people savor these years! The majority of people are eager to stay in this world, accumulate wealth, stash and stack treasures, live life to the fullest, wring every last drop of joy out of this life while it lasts. But as Christians, we’re the opposite. We groan throughout these days. We’re eager to leave. In our heart of hearts, what we really want is something that lasts.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Solomon. Solomon had enough wives to have a different evening companion each night for two years. 700 wives. He had unmatched wisdom, he had treasures galore, royalty, splendor, you name it. And how did Solomon describe this life? Meaningless. Worthless. Solomon hated this life. In Ecclesiastes chapter 3, Solomon says “God has set eternity in the human heart” Have you ever been disappointed on your last bite of ice cream? Have you ever been bummed that vacation’s over and you have to go back to work on Monday? Have you ever shed a tear after saying goodbye to dear family members or friends after a good visit? Then you know exactly what Solomon’s talking about here. God has placed eternity in our hearts. Everyone in this world yearns for lasting joy, peace and happiness. By the grace of God, we know where it can be found – in Christ alone. He has made a way for us to eternal bliss in heaven. He took our filthiness, our countless sins and wiped them away on the cross. And in return, he clothed us in perfect righteousness. God’s great exchange. Heaven is yours and mine!
You know what’s in store for your future, because of Christ’s grace.

So, how do you feel about all this? Since you know what is yours, are you eager to leave this life? This past week, I was at a pastor’s conference, and with some of the brothers we got to talking about our church body’s ministry called Time of Grace – you might be familiar with it. They make great digital content and devotional videos. Time of Grace tackles alot of tough topics – abortion, abuse, sexuality, gender, etc. In conversations this week, I came to learn what one of Time of Grace’s most controversial online videos was about. It wasn’t about gay marriage. Nor was it pertaining to politics, or men and women’s roles in the church. Do you know what was one of their most controversially received videos? “Will my pets be in heaven” This was a very troubling topic for many – the thought of eternity without our favorite creatures. And that reminds me that among Christians, we aren’t exactly always eager for lasting residence in heaven. Here are some of the things I’ve heard about heaven before: “If pets aren’t in heaven, then I don’t want to go. How can I be happy eternally if (he/she) isn’t going to be there with me? Is heaven just going to be us in halos singing forever and ever? That sounds boring. “Going to heaven means I leave all my favorite things behind.” Paul says in verse 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Are you eager to go to heaven right now? Or are you eager to stay here? Are you confident that God has something better waiting for you after you die?

Solomon also said in the Bible that “there is nothing new under the sun” – as we talk about all this today I’m reminded of God’s first people, the Israelites. He delivers them out of slavery, he promises to take them to a promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey – and all they do is gripe. The food stinks, the journey is exhausting, God – we’d rather go back to slavery than to keep going! I need to admit, and you do too – that so often our hearts are chained to these temporary tents. We, just like the Israelites, have not always held God’s promised gifts above with unwavering joy. As you know, we have a large homeless population in our area. Imagine if I walked up to a random individual, showed them a Zillow real estate listing and said “Look, I bought you a house” and they said “Nah, I’d much rather stay here awhile longer. Imagine how God must feel when we treat our permanent place of heaven, obtained by Christ’s blood, with diminished joy and excitement!

So how does one become eager to leave this life? By reading this section. Because Paul tells us the best part of eternal life. Five words – at home with the Lord. Who is the Lord and what has he done for us? Check out verse 5. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Winnie (my dog) gives me so much happiness. My family and friends give me unconditional love day after day. But God has given me something even better than both of these things – himself. Another name for Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us” – Jesus left heaven, willingly took on this mortal flesh, walked on this same earth, went to the grave, and defeated death for good. We had no way of getting to heaven on our own. Jesus came down here and made a way. We were given freedom from slavery, we were healed from our many sins, we were given adoption, an identity, a home. Additionally, God has given us a preview of heaven by giving us his Holy Spirit. Because of your baptism and the faith God has created in you, God dwells in your heart. He guides you, he leads you, he keeps you on the path Jesus made. Today is Father’s Day – you maybe had a great dad, an okay dad, a bad dad, or no dad – but what’s yours up there is a perfect Father – one who will never fail you or hurt you or leave you. He will treasure you forever. Pretty exciting, all this, isn’t it? At home with the Lord. That’s what he has all done for us. That’s who we get to spend eternity with.

So as we groan, as we wait, we follow Paul’s encouragement. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. We already live under his favor, grace, and blessing. We want to serve the one who has given us anything. We want to adore this amazing Father above all other gods of this world. We want to use these bodies (for as long as we have them) to God’s glory in all that we do. We want to show radical gospel love to those around us, so that they might come to be eager about the same thing we’re eager for.

“Our hearts just aren’t in it.” What a beautiful thing to say of this life. What a joyous home that will one day be ours. Amen.