My pastor is fond of the phrase ‘already, not yet.’
We’re new creations in Christ already, but bits of the old man’s skin cling to us. Sometimes entire swatches haven’t yet shed. Oh wretched people we are. Just when we think we have this Christian life figured out we get slapped upside the head with God’s requirements and see how short we fall. Not perfect yet.
Christ already came, bringing His Kingdom. But not every citizen of the Kingdom has been gathered in. Not yet.
Heaven is already ours. But we’re not there yet. We’re still in the messy, contentious, polluted, violent world that, unlike the one to come, is filled with war and death and tears. Lots and lots of tears.
Speaking of not yet: ever notice how warty the body of Christ is? Sure, the church is already the bride, already hands and feet etc. But does it look lovely and pure and fully functional?
Since the ‘already’ doesn’t look nearly as good as the ‘not yet,’ hope can by mighty hard to come by.
Another day hearing about hatred and its Pandora’s Box of evil deeds, another season seeing the earth we’re supposed to steward laid waste,
another Sunday wondering why we didn’t get to choose who would be our siblings in Christ because this bunch ain’t cutting it.
Another nightfall of self-examination and muttering over the ugliness in our hearts that refuses to heed the eviction notice.
Seems like hope for the ‘not yet’ is too much to hope for.
I live in the land of four seasons. Six months of winter coming, staying, and leaving, almost-three months of mosquito-spawning humidity, and the four remaining months divided haphazardly between autumn and spring.
March is an odd month in Four Seasons Land. Technically spring begins toward its end. March displays flashes of fine-weather promise interspersed with dour skies and spiteful snowfalls. After beguiling us with a glimpse of bare earth and its awakening aroma, songs of birds returned to the hearty climate, the feel of balm on one’s skin instead of ice, March retreats to do what it does best. It disappoints.
We get discouraged. We think we cannot hang on one. More. Day. Spring has to come or we will go absolutely, spectacularly mad. Underneath the gnawing need for spring to appear right this minute though, is the realization that it is closer than it was last month, last December, yesterday.
With no definitive glimpse into the mind of God, I still speculate if March is one way He chooses to help us comprehend the not-yet-edness of our existence. The landfill a few miles from my house grows by the day. Birds still see fit to nest along the top. My siblings in the body of Christ squabble one minute, rally round each other in deeds and prayer the next. We are family you know. Against all earthly odds Christ has sustained and nourished this body for two thousand years.
I went to bed last night more aware than ever of the hopelessness of my sin nature.
I woke up this morning more aware of, more humbled by, and more exhilarated because of grace. The Kingdom is nearer at hand now than it was yesterday.
It may not be spring yet, but the robins are already singing outside my window.