“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
~2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV).
Death is the great leveller. Any of us at any time can simply consider the imminence of our deaths and marvel (in wonder or terror) at what exactly lies on the other side, the moment thereafter into eternity.
Each day we get older and newer wrinkles form, grey hair gets thicker in its “splendour,” and we’re reminded that we’re dying physically.
And yet, the purpose of life is that we grow throughout the lifespan—not physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Hope is the thing that facilitates this growth; hope beyond the erasure of physical death—hope for a future beyond this life.
This section of the Corinthian correspondence is simply one of the most inspirational, I think because it captures so succinctly Paul’s struggling heart for the wayward and proud Corinthians—it’s almost Paul into spiritual overdrive, fighting the good fight of faith in contention for the many embuggerances he was enduring because of them.
He does not lose heart, however, and he does not want them (or us) to lose heart either. For the hope we profess is not a seen thing (Romans 8:24-25). It is, in this way, ludicrous to the world. It is because this hope wells up from within us; and it confuses because it cannot be “proven,” beyond the level of personal experience.
And yet, it is oh too true!
Our going against the world in many things—due our smiling faith—is madness to a fading, lost world; a world without hope. It cannot make sense of eternity and it does not understand how something so real, yet so ephemeral, as the earth could be so vulnerable; this is because the earth is all they have. It’s a flimsy-at-best reality.
Death again is the final corrective for materialism.
Materialism cannot negotiate in the terms of death—it has no answer. Physical death has the best of us all; but the spiritual death has been conquered and there is a gateway to life eternal—both here and to come; it’s that hope that refuses to be silenced and which is renewed day by day.
This is salvation now and to come.
Praise and thanks be to the Father, and to the Son in heaven, Jesus Christ, for this! The sent and received Holy Spirit makes all of the foregoing possible.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.