Homesick for heaven

In 2 Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul talks about being at home:

[1] For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, [3] if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. [5] He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

[6] So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, [7] for we walk by faith, not by sight. [8] Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [9] So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.  [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10, ESV)

Homes are important. It takes a lot of work to make a home. It’s not something that just happens. All family members have to work together to make a good home.

When children grow up they move away from home and establish homes of their own. Sometimes that does not go so smoothly and they move back home. Even when they do establish homes of their own they still talk about going to their parents’ house as going home.

HGTV’s popular series House Hunters is about people looking for a new home. They are usually given three homes to look at and then they have to decide which one is best for them. At the end of each episode the homeowners are shown in their new home.

A Christian home can be a great witnessing tool. A cross or other Christian artwork can be powerful witness to all visitors that this is a Christian home. To provide a home for the homeless is one of the most loving things a person can do.

One of the most difficult decisions people have to make is when a person can’t stay in their own home anymore and they have to move to a place where they can get the care they need.

Home is so appealing because it is a place where we can relax, be ourselves. If you have a situation where you have a nice house and are living with members of your own family but don’t feel like you can be yourself then it won’t feel like home.

In this passage from 2 Corinthians 5 Paul points out that being at in the body means being away from the Lord. Paul is longing for his heavenly home.

Someone once referred to what Paul is describing as heavenly homesickness or reverse homesickness. Homesickness is when you are away from home and missing it. It can be such a powerful feeling that it leads to actual physical sickness.

Heavenly homesickness is different because we are homesick for a place that we have never been before. None of us have ever been to heaven but we are homesick for it because we know it will be great. That’s why it is also sometimes called reverse homesickness.

One way that people get homesick for heaven is when a loved one dies and goes to heaven. They miss that loved one so much they want to go to heaven to be with their loved one. We long for heaven because we know that there we will be with Jesus.

For a Christian, home is always where Jesus is. Paul says he would rather be “away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Being with the Lord we can truly rest and be ourselves. We don’t have to hide from our sins or pretend we haven’t sinned. He knows our sins and still loves us. He died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life. We can rest in his presence because we know that no harm can befall us.

In verse 10 above it says that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Because of Jesus, our appearance before the judgment seat of Christ will not be a fearful thing, it will be a joyous time. All that we have done will be judged in light of Jesus’ perfect righteousness which is given to us through faith.

The only way to cure regular homesickness is to go back home. If that is not possible then it’s best to stay busy until we can get back home.

So too, with heavenly homesickness. We will be bothered by it until we actually get to heaven. Until then we stay busy with the things that God has given us to do while we remain here on earth. We gather with our fellow believers to hear his word and receive the Sacrament. We serve our neighbors and share the Good News with them so that they can join us someday in our heavenly home.

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