There are many phrases Christians fall back on in conversations. They often act to sum up, to capture something of the topic.
Here’s one: ‘I guess it’s the now and the not yet.’
Perhaps the chat was about being saved. Christians are saved, and so presently have confidence to approach God. Also, Christians will be saved, so we place our hope in that future day when Jesus will return.
Perhaps the conversation was about living out the faith. We expect to see Christians presently grow in godliness, because we have the Spirit within. Also, Christians fall into sin and so long for the future when we will be like Christ.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2
This ‘two step’ reality, it seems to me, is woven deeply within the Bible’s whole story.
Look at Jesus. He ‘upholds the universe by the word of his power’ (Hebrews 1:3), because he has completed his work. And also, ‘at present we do not yet see everything in subjection to him’ (Hebrews 2:8).
Look at David. Appointed and anointed as king in 1 Samuel 16. Yet his kingship was hidden, while subject to King Saul and persecuted by King Saul. His public anointing was in 2 Samuel 2.
For living as a Christian, knowing this shape is important. It’s essential, so we can live.
Some Christians (and Christian leaders) have a view that’s all now without not yet. “You can be perfect now, be complete now, have all blessings now, never struggle against sin, never be short of possessions …”
Other Christians and leaders have a totally deferred view of God’s blessings. They teach nothing but present struggle, failure, unresolvable guilt, social dislocation, persecution and opposition. This is the not yet and the even-further-away not yet.
Neither of these single-sided views are liveable, nor biblical.
The now and the not yet: it’s short enough to sound like a cliché, but it’s the true Christian life in concentrated form