Already but Not Yet
Throughout the ages, theologians have disagreed about most things. Various biblical interpretations and ecclesiological emphases have lead to countless denominations and traditions. Remarkably, one of the few areas that Christian thinkers virtually all agree on is that our present world is an interim place. Everyone affirms that we live in this unique space of “already but not yet.” And while we can’t come to a consensus on what this space should look like, we all concur that we are somewhere between its inauguration and its fulfillment.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus ushered in a new kingdom, one that had been conceived and cultivated generations before Him though the patriarchs and the prophets. But what these fathers and preachers could only point to, Jesus accomplished. His cry of “it is finished” was not the completion of a kingdom but the launching of it. Jesus’ work – his incarnation, execution and resurrection – would be rallying point of humanity. It would be the central, historical act that would not only be remembered in the future, but shape the future.
In Isaiah 11, the prophet writes about a kingdom where peace, justice and righteousness are normative. He writes about a kingdom that is so massive, so pervasive, it would engulf the whole earth the way the waters cover the sea, and it would be led by a little child.
In the West, we get a tiny glimpse of this coming reality at Christmas. Directly or indirectly, intentionally or not, an entire culture - the national consciousness - is inundated with songs of a kingdom that began in a manger. No sporting event, no TV show, no presidential speech captures the attention of a people like the centerpiece of this ancient holiday.
To be sure, this attention is perverted and skewed. Commercialization and materialism obscures our view and this attention is seasonal at best. But that’s why it is only a partial, regional, temporary peek into what will one day be a total, permanent, global kingdom, where “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb.” It will be as prevalent and obvious as water in the sea.
This is not theoretical. This is not hyperbole. This will happen. From Benghazi, Libya to Ferguson, Missouri and every hamlet and metropolis in between. The weight of God’s glory and the joy of His gospel will fully saturate and satisfy us all and everyday will be like Christmas because God. Is. With. Us.
“He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4