The now and the not yet

The now and the not yet

As Christians, we have many rich blessings right now, yet we long for the ultimate form of those blessings in the future. There are things we have now, and some things we don’t yet have.

This tension between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ can be seen in quite a few passages, including 1 Peter 1. When Peter speaks to Christians scattered throughout what we today would call Turkey, he is full of praise to God for the things they already have. If we trust in Jesus, just like the believers in Turkey in the first century, we have so much now: a new birth, a living hope, a certain inheritance, and faith more precious than gold. We could add many things from other passages, blessings like forgiven sins (1 John 2:12), adoption as God’s children (Rom 8:16-17), and peace with God (Rom 5:1). It is indeed a wonderful thing to trust in Jesus right now. It’s not all hardship now and blessing after we die!

That being said, what is coming for Christians is better than what we have now. We have a living hope now; what that hope points to will be better. One day we will live forever with our King, and we will no longer suffer the effects of sin. We won’t need to experience pain and suffering and mourning. We will be with the people of God from all places and times, all praising God together.

In this time of isolation, the concept of the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ takes on an extra dimension.

Right now, we still have so much that is good. We are still forgiven, we still know with certainty that Jesus is King, and we still know God has a plan for the world. We still have fellowship (although limited) with our local church through online services and Bible studies. It’s a lot. We can rejoice, even now, knowing we are richly blessed.

In some unspecified time, hopefully not that far into the future, our experience of church will be back to something like normal. There will come a time, though not yet, when we will meet in one place to sing and pray and hear God’s word. We will be able to shake hands and hug; possibly even share a holy kiss if you are so inclined in that direction! From where we are now, that ‘not yet’ reality will be a wonderful thing. It will be like what we have now, only fuller.

And, of course, we still look forward to the ultimate blessing of being one of God’s people, the ultimate ‘not yet’. One day, also hopefully soon, we will be with our Heavenly Father forever. We won’t only be free of fears over the virus and anxiety over isolation; we will be free of all fear and united with God’s people forever.

Friends, what we have now is good. What we look forward to after this isolation period will be better. And what God has in store for us in eternity will be much better. Isn’t God kind?