By Ben Fiddian,
We seem to be moving on, at last. The lockdown restrictions have been relaxed which allows us to do more of what we wish to and points towards the coming return of other longed-for freedoms. A social-distanced visit in the garden with friends is exciting and tells us that it won’t be too long before we can once again greet each other with a hug or a handshake. Some restaurants have started selling take-away food and it won’t be too long before we can sit down for a meal out. We are enjoying privileges which are ours already but still longing for something more. It is a kind of ‘already-and-not-yet’ tension.
The Bible presents the whole Christian life as a spiritual ‘already-and-not-yet’ tension. We live in the era between Jesus’ death and resurrection and the time when He will return to judge the world. Whilst we already enjoy many, many spiritual privileges, we do not know the half of what God will give us in heaven. We know Jesus in His Word and by His Spirit but one day we will see Him face to face. It’s wonderful to gather to worship with other Christians now but it is only a pale reflection of the worship of heaven where people from every family, tribe, tongue, and nation gather at God’s throne to praise Him for eternity. We have Christ’s promise to be alongside us and comfort us in all our trials and troubles but those troubles and trials still exist – whether that be through pain and illness, persecution, or adverse circumstances. Satan was totally defeated and disarmed by Christ at the Cross but that total victory will not be completely visible until He returns – in the mean time Christ works it out gradually as He gives victory to us as Christians in our own struggles against all kinds of evil. As Christians we already have eternal life but we do not yet have complete healing of the body.
Partial freedom is still difficult. The suffering and struggles continue for many. Anxiety levels are still high. Some are still being infected. The bad things are real. Lockdown has been long and wearisome. At the same time they point towards greater freedoms to come: it will not continue forever! In the same way, Christian suffering, persecution and trial is real, painful and wearisome. But in all these things God is preparing us for greater things to come:
“…As it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared
for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Jesus calls us to face the real and painful difficulties of today by “fixing our minds on things above” and trusting in His promises for tomorrow. There’s a long way to go but we are going home.
Ben is part of the lecturing team at the Faith Mission Bible College
Follow his blog at https://fidzbit.blogspot.com/