Many, many times, I’ve heard the phrase “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Is anyone else bothered by this? Or is it just me?
I’m not saying that I don’t believe it’s true–I honestly don’t know and really haven’t studied it. Maybe we are immediately in heaven when we die–I’d certainly prefer to believe that. “Soul sleep,” hanging out in limbo somewhere until the rapture, is not a particularly attractive idea. It’s more appealing to picture my departed loved ones in heaven with Jesus.
But I am quite sure that 2 Corinthians 5: 6-8, which this popular phrase appears to quote, does not say any such thing. I’ve checked numerous different translations, and they all say the same thing: that while we are in this body we are away from the Lord, and that we would rather be away from the body and present with the Lord. It makes no claim whatsoever that this is what actually happens immediately upon death. It is a simple statement of our desires.
So why is this catchphrase so popular in Christendom? Are there other scriptures that definitively show this is true? And if so, why is this the one I hear “quoted?” Anyone have insight on this?