6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:6-8
Notice, clearly, that the Bible states that when we are “at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord”.
One day, many years ago, a brother and I were walking in the hot, punishing Musoma sun when I made the unfortunate remark that I wished we had a car or even a motor-cycle. The brother kept walking for a minute and then he said, “Y’know, pastor, nowadays we are too soft on ourselves. The early church never even thought of such things.”
I winced at the brother’s words. But on closer reflection, I realized how truly “absent from the Lord” I was. Somehow I was reminded that cars and motor-cycles have nothing to do with the Kingdom to which we have been called, for it is a spiritual Kingdom!
Indeed, when we reflect on the lives of the early disciples of Jesus Christ we find they were men and women who despised their own lives and the material trappings of this earthly life (Heb. 10:32-39). The apostles themselves lived lives that were materially far below even those of the common pauper (1 Cor. 4:9). And yet with all the wealth that was daily being laid at their feet, the early apostles could have lived like kings! (Acts 4:34-37) Which points to perhaps the most surprising fact about these early believers – that this was a choice on their part. It was not forced upon them by anyone. But these Godly men and women knew they were engaged in a war with their flesh and they therefore deliberately chose to cut themselves from this worldly life. They purposed to take up their cross and crucify the flesh in every possible way.
It was not that this scorning of the material life was in itself sufficient to make them spiritual, but they knew it was a necessary part of the road that they were called upon to take.
We reflect on men like the Apostle Paul, who one time commanded his team to go ahead by ship while he himself purposed to walk the long distance by foot (Acts 20:13).
Much more, of course, could be spoken of our Lord Jesus Christ who preached to the crowds from a borrowed fishing boat, and without even the aid of a public address system. And yet this Man, being the Son of God, could have stunned His peers as He flew from one ministry point to another in a post-modern superjet.
Moreover, nearly all Jesus’s journeys were made on foot. Can you imagine that! This was a Man who could walk on water; but on account of crucifying the flesh, Jesus planted His feet firmly on the ground and walked the Judean roads. At one point as He was passing through Samaria, Jesus was so exhausted from fasting and the long walk that He sat by a well to relax and ask for a drink of water. It was there that He met the Samaritan woman, and a beautiful story unfolded.
Space would not suffice to write about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; of Joseph, of Ruth, of Esther, of David, Daniel and the many other Godly men and women who in so many different ways were willing to lose this world that they might gain God’s riches in the Spirit. We see clearly that our spiritual fathers utterly despised the things of this world and this earthly life. They were seeking after a spiritual heritage. They were seeking to be “present with the Lord”.
Unfortunately, it is not so today. Clearly, we in this generation are certainly more “at home in the body” – and “absent from the Lord”. We are a “rights” people. We have so many rights! And we love the soft, comfortable fleshly life.
But this only takes us far from the Lord. Our only recourse to being “present with the Lord” is to crucify our flesh.
[Below: From the surrounding hills, one gets a beautiful view of Lake Victoria and Musoma Town down below]