December 8, 2016

Here but not yet . . .

In theology classes, Christians are taught that the Kingdom of God arrived with Jesus Christ, so it is here, but not yet. In other words, His rule as King has begun, but is not yet fully accomplished. It will be, and that is a certainty, but not yet.

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11–14)

In the same “here and not yet here” concept, we who believe are set apart for God because we belong to Him, yet we are being set apart for God (sanctified) because we are not there yet. Parts of our lives are wholly dedicated, but I am continually being made aware of what I hold back even though I know that all of it already belongs to Jesus.

My first reaction to all of this is humility. How can it be that I love the Lord my God yet resist Him? How can it be that my sins are totally forgiven yet I continue to sin? How can it be that this life is perfected for all time, yet I am still “being sanctified”? 

God’s ways are definitely mysterious and this is one of them. Yet it works. First of all, it keeps me on my knees before Him. I’m continually asking for help, thankful for grace, and amazed at the wonder of Him.

It also keeps me in a place where I can relate to others and they can identify with me. The people around me cannot deal with me as a perfectly sinless person, even if that were possible. Look what they did to Jesus. While some believed later, they all cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him.” People around me can identify with my bumbling much easier than Christ’s perfections. I can also empathize with their sins and weaknesses. If God’s kingdom was complete in my life that would not happen.

As the above passage says, the offering of Jesus Christ for my sins was for all of them. No matter what I have done or will do in the future, His blood covers it. I am forgiven, even “perfected” — which means “without defect or blemish” in the sight of God, yet here on earth in this life, He is not done with me. He is at work that I might be fully dedicated to Him as He is to me, and that I might be totally pure in everything I think, say, or do.

Like the Kingdom, this is here for me and as sure as the promises and faithfulness of God. However, I’m not there yet. I’m on a journey with Christ to a certain destiny and because He lives in me, I will not only make it to the end, but also will be like Him when I get there.

Lest anyone think that the Christian life is restricting, boring, or without its challenges, my efforts to live up to what God has already accomplished for me is more than enough to make life exciting and challenging, but also filled with anticipation and the certainty that He will finish all that He has begun.

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