Mansion or a Room with a View?

imageI heard a pastor say recently that since Jesus was a carpenter, He must have been a master carpenter once He learned the trade from His father, Joseph.  If you wanted something done right, go to the Son of God.  Next he referred to John 14:1-3 when Jesus said to His disciples that He is going away to prepare a place for them.

“If Jesus is preparing the place,” he reasoned, “it must be the best.”

My spirit soared as I listened.

Then he mentioned that Jesus can only build with materials that each person sends ahead by our good works.

My spirit sunk as I heard those words — especially since it was at a graveside  service.

First of all, I deeply respect this pastor, and I know that he loves the Lord.  He did a wonderful job of conducting the funeral service and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to a packed church audience.

Secondly, however, I felt his material message wasn’t suited for grieving family and friends at a chilly cemetery setting.

Finally, if the pastor was referring to 1 Corinthians 3, let’s look at chapter 3 more closely:

  • The church at Corinth was God’s building.  v. 9
  • Paul was building the church on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  v. 10-11
  • We also build the church with either perishable or imperishable materials.  v. 12
  • Each person receives a reward for only the labor that he or she does.  v. 8
  • If anyone’s work building the church survives the fire of God’s test, he or she will receive that reward.  v. 14

Paul does not explain what the reward possibilities are or when we will receive this reward.   Popular thought is that we will receive our reward in heaven, and I try to keep an open mind about what that reward might be.  Our reward may be people in heaven saying “thank you” to us for our influence in their lives.  I hope it’s not a dwelling place whose product quality is based on my works in this life.

I like to think of heaven as a place of grace.  I can’t imagine walking down a street of gold, seeing the apostle Paul’s 20,000-foot mansion, and lamenting my home of sticks and bed of straw.  Actually, the Greek word for “mansion” in some translations of John 14:2 means “dwelling place, room, abode”.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the only dwelling place was God’s, and we all just had rooms in His hotel?  “In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”  (John 14:2 ESV)

I don’t care what my place looks like — just as long as God’s there.  After all, Jesus was born in a 1-star hotel that didn’t smell all that great.


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