The Theology Of Tents (And Beer?)
This might reveal my age, but I’m old enough to remember a beer commercial from the 1970s: “You only go around once, and you gotta grab for all the gusto you can.”
More recently, this pack-it-all-in mentality has been captured by our youth with the hashtag #YOLO (you only live once). Perhaps you have heard some variation of the statement: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
These trendy phrases reveal that every generation shares one thing in common: we all suffer from eternity amnesia.
Eternity amnesia loads all our hopes and dreams into this present moment. Eternity amnesia makes present pleasures more magnetic and seductive, and current difficulties more painful and disappointing. Those who suffer from eternity amnesia obsessively work to experience delight and, in anxiety, do everything we can to avoid discomfort.
Whatever our confessional theology says about eternity, many of us treat here and now as if this is all there is. We live with a destination mentality instead of a preparation mentality.
We need the reminder found in 2 Corinthians 5:1–5. Scripture talks about the impermanence of the here and now with the analogy of dwelling in tents. The word picture is of pilgrims traveling toward their final destination, who set up portable dwelling places along the way. Your tent reminds you that you are not at your destination yet. It announces to you that you are still not home.
Dwelling in tents with a preparation mentality is designed by God to produce three things in us — longing, maturity, and hope.
1. God intends for the disappointments of this present world to make us long for the next. This world is not a safe place to look to for a sense of well-being, so we groan as we wait eagerly for the paradise to come. (2 Corinthians 5:2, Romans 8:23)
2. God also knows that we are not mature enough to spend eternity with him. We are too impressed with our wisdom, strength, and righteousness. We struggle to love the Creator more than his creation. We want to have our way and write our rules. The pressures of today produce essential character changes that mature us for Tomorrow. (1 Peter 1:7, Phillipians 1:6)
3. Lastly, God is using this present moment to produce in us sturdy hope. In his generosity, he allows us to experience tastes of what is to come, so we don’t panic in the face of difficulty and disappointment. By grace, we know that God is moving us toward a place where the suffering of this present moment will be no more. (Revelation 21:4, 1 Corinthians 15:19)
Are you living with a destination mentality? Are you trying to cram your life with as much pleasure, happiness, and excitement as possible? You will never get from this world what you can only experience in the next.
Ask the Lord to help you live with a preparation mentality. Let’s subscribe again today to be on God’s eternal agenda, that our ultimate happiness is not what he is working on.
Groan for Forever, embrace the sanctification process, and anticipate the paradise that this world will never provide.
You can do so with confidence, knowing that God will never leave you on your own: “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:5)
Paul David Tripp
1. How have you seen the destination mentality celebrated in your culture? What lies are they believing and promoting?
2. In what ways are you grabbing for all the gusto you can? How are you justifying any decisions made out of eternity amnesia?
3. This week, how can you live more as a pilgrim dwelling in a tent? Be specific.
4. Are you quick to admit your spiritual immaturity? Or are you defensive and hardended to the sanctification process recently? What is one area of weakness that God is working on?
5. What suffering are you currently experiencing that Forever will wipe away? How does this proide practical hope, allowing you to carry on today?
Want to learn more about New Hope Church? Click here.