“Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling, since, when we have taken it off, we will not be found naked.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
One of the currently popular shows on the Discovery Channel is called Naked and Afraid. Admittedly, I’ve never watched it, but from the constant ads for it I’ve seen while watching various other shows on the network, the premise seems to be that one or two people have been dropped off somewhere rugged and remote and have to survive for some amount of time using nothing but a single personal item and their wits. Also, that single personal item is the onlything they have with them. Thus the title of the show. The only thing the ads have convinced me of beyond the show’s total lack of entertainment value is that I don’t think surviving in the wild is supposed to work like that.
As Paul continues reflecting on the end of life and what comes next with the Corinthian believers here, this idea of things not working like they seem they should be working comes into play. While we know that aches and pains and disease and death are a part of this life, humans have always had a nagging memory that seems to be part of our genetic programming, that this is not how things are supposed to be.
We can see this groaning in a variety of ways. In more ancient times we made up stories about what went wrong and what we should be like—would be like once we arrived. Today we see people doing everything they can to hold off the pull of aging. We exercise, we tone, we get lifts and tucks and smooths and shapes. We try to deny the effects of aging and our general frailty in every way we can.
As followers of Jesus, we understand why we have always had this nagging sense of wrongness when faced with death and disease in a special way. We understand that people have long felt things aren’t like they are supposed to be…because they’re not like they’re supposed to be.
But, we have something more than the rest of the world has. Well, everyone has it, but not everyone believes it. What we have is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know without a doubt that there is something on the other side of our eyes closing for the last time on this life. What’s more, we know from His words and Paul’s longer reflection in his first letter to the Corinthian church that the body Jesus had then was the prototype of the one we will receive.
It is this very heavenly dwelling that we desire to put on so that we will not be naked anymore. And I don’t mean physically unclothed. Neither does Paul. He’s making a comparison. The heavenly, resurrection body we will have in that day is so much greater than what we have now—although the exact nature of its greatness will remain a mystery until we receive it—that we are naked by comparison.
Indeed, I suspect that by the end of their adventures, the various participants of Naked and Afraid want few things more than a hot shower and a soft robe to cover up their bodies. They long to be clothed. So do we. Our clothing will just happen to last a whole lot longer than what they put on.