Now and the “Not Yet”
“For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved.” Eternal life with God is already able to be experienced now, but it’s not yet fully experienced. We are free now from sin’s condemnation upon us, but we’re not yet free from sin in our lives. Jesus has inaugurated a new kingdom life now, but it’s not yet been fully ushered in. This now and “not yet” tension we live in is what the passage from Romans 8 above partly describes. Though we’ve been adopted as God’s children through our faith in Christ and have been given now the very presence of God in our lives (i.e. the Holy Spirit), we have not yet received our full inheritance as God’s children, that is, our new bodies and full release from sin, sorrow, and suffering. Like a pregnant woman, we – and all creation – have a new life to celebrate now, but the forthcoming of that new life is still yet awaited. This is why Christians can simultaneously give thanks to God and praise Him for all we have now in Christ (salvation, forgiveness, love, Holy Spirit, redemption, etc.), and yet still cry out for change, mourn the shortcomings of this world, and deeply yearn for the new heaven and earth when all turmoil, strife, oppression, and suffering is vanquished. Why the waiting? Why such living between two realities, the now and the “not yet”? The next few verses of Romans 8 lets us partly know, “If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently” (v. 24b-25). Because we were made for God and to be with God, the reality of the “not yet” allows us to choose this life or life with Him. We can either choose to think that this world is all there is, or we can trust God in hope for another world, where our true home lies. Love gives us a choice. And because God wants everyone to make that choice for Him, He patiently waits – yearning for His creation to return. So for us who’ve already made that choice, we too must wait patiently, but confidently that there is another home, another world, another life to experience that is far better. Graciously, we’ve been given a foretaste of it, and it only wets our appetite for the “full course.” Come, Lord Jesus! Let us pray: God, we see so much of your broken creation around us. We see so many going a wrong direction. And truthfully, we do too sometimes. We long for the full redemption of our bodies, of our minds, and of our hearts. But our times are in Your hands, O God. Continue to renew me day by day with Your Holy Spirit. May his comfort and truth be my confidence amidst the waiting. And Lord, in whatever way You want me to partner with You in Your renewal of this world, empower me to do my part for Your glory, in Jesus name. Amen.