living in the already.

one of the phrases i’ve heard constantly in the last two and a half years is that we live in the “already, not yet.”

already, Christ has defeated death and overthrown the shackles of sin–yet the reality is that we still live in a fallen world, where we must deal with the realities of its fallenness–sin, death, hurt, pain, strife, discontent.

already, we have been forgiven and made new and right, and yet not yet in the sense that we wait and groan for the true perfection we will experience in heaven.

well, i’ve been thinking a lot about advent this month, probably because it’s advent, obviously.  i’ve been thinking about what it means to be an exile, and how the israelites were exiled from their land–because of national and individual sin, but also for God to show up in an incredible way and do something amazing and bring forever redemption to a people flawed, imperfect, and unable to save themselves. kind of like me.

in a sense, the advent season is a declaration of the “already, not yet.”  the israelites awaited a savior, and the promises they were made in spite of their lack of covenantal fidelity.  and in a sense, as we celebrate advent and christmas, we also experience the already–that Christ came, as a baby, and grew and humbled himself and died and has brought forgiveness–and the not yet.  that not yet have we obtained all of these benefits. that our bodies are still mortal.  that we still live in a land strife with sin and with evil.

i have to be honest and tell you that i, myself, identify a lot with the israelite.  the israelite who is waiting in exile.  sometimes i’m not actually in exile–sometimes the place i deem “exile” is actually a fertile valley and a plentiful plain, but that’s all about perspective.  i tell myself that one day things will be made right, and that sin will no longer reign, and i will have peace and find contentment then in Christ, and that he will wipe away all the tears and make everything sad come untrue.  sometimes i live so much in the not yet, that i forget about the already.

there’s a tension there. and it’s a both-and.  sometimes, i forget what Christ has already done.  that he has already defeated death, by death.  that he has trampled over sin and proclaimed, “death, where is your sting? hell, where is your victory?” in the face of my enemy.  that he reigns, that he is in control, and that he allows satan to have power–for a time–but that the battle has already been won.

and the battle that has been won, the death that has been defeated, the sin that has been overcome? it has a lot of ramifications for how i ought to live life.  with victory.  knowing that God is in control.  that he has already fulfilled promises and will continue to do so. that sin–the fallenness of my world, and specific things people in my past have chosen to do, which affect my world, and even my own sin–ought to have no power over me.  does sin impact me? yes.  some circumstances in my life are the way they are, because of bad choices that others made–others i trusted, and loved, and believed had my best intentions at heart.

i can’t take back the past.  i can’t live so much in the future, and the not yet, that i lose heart in the already.  that already Christ has defeated these things. that already he is in control. that already he mourns over sin and brokenness and already longs to restore and to make right, and that one day–and that day will come, and it’s not just a fixed, imaginary day out in the universe, but an actual, tangible, believable, 1st corinthians 15 kind of day, he will come again. and he will make things right. and he will wipe away every tear, and i will live and worship in a time where the already and not yet have come together and blurred in such a beautiful manner that seconds, minutes, pains, heartaches, and longings won’t even be of the essence.  all these things will be wiped away by the one in charge, the one ruling over the already, not yet. thank goodness. thank God.

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