Perhaps now is the time to remind ourselves that life is fragile. We have all experienced a greater measure of our own bodily fragility ever since our world declared a world-wide pandemic. We realized that there are viruses that not only make us sick but can even kill us. And the virus has killed young, old, and in between; healthy, sick, fit, and weak. We have all had to come to grips with mortality, sickness, and possible long-term health effects. We have also realized that civilization is fragile. This first showed up in the economy of the world but soon became obvious in our political systems, the way we interact with each other in our communities, and our divisions along many lines. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (New Living Translation, NLT) makes it clear that each of us has life within us and yet we carry this life around in a fragile vessel.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
The distinction between life and not-life is significant, and yet it is a fine line. At one level, we see life in humans, animals, and plants and debate whether or not a virus contains life. Is a coronavirus truly life or is it just a biological machine that can take over our human biochemistry? We search to see if life exists on any other planet or moon in the universe, while recognizing how fragile all life is on this blue-green fragile planet.
Second Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT) has some helpful teaching on how to live with the fragility of life here on earth.
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
The concepts this passage teaches are not readily brought to mind in our current predicament in the world and so we need to remind ourselves of them once again.
· This fragile body in which we live is not our permanent residence; one day, our life essence will be housed in a new eternal body.
· It is normal to grow weary of life on this earth and long for the eternal realms.
· We are caught in the mystery of wanting to stay here in this body and this world, while also longing to put on our new eternal bodies.
· God has prepared us for this longing and wants us to be ready to transition to a new realm.
· To some, he has already given the guarantee of his Holy Spirit.
As we look at this fragile planet, these fragile systems, and our bodies as fragile entities like clay pots, we are reminded that God has a plan that begins now and continues into eternity. The purpose of this article is to remind us of the life we have beyond these fragile bodies, and yet it also reminds us that as we thirst for righteousness in this world, we need not fear what might happen to our earthly bodies. For Jesus said,
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
(Matthew 16:25 NLT).
As we remind one another of a better life beyond this world, and as we prepare ourselves to breathe - with fresh lungs - the air of heaven, we will simultaneously seek to make this world a better place. May God show us his hope for the future and may it begin now on this fragile earth.