Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Now and the Not Yet

One of the paradoxes of faith in Christ is the tension between what we are now and what we shall become. On the one hand, the Scriptures assure us that once we submit to Christ, we are already complete in him here and now (consider Colossians 1:22 and 2:10 or Romans 5:1 among others.) Yet at the same time we are encouraged to continue to grow into his likeness (as for example in Philippians 2:12, Colossians 3:1-17 and many others places.) Some like to use the fancy theological terms justification and sanctification to clarify these two conditions. While not rejecting that distinction, I find I wrestle to understand what this looks like in daily life. As I have shared recently, I am learning to live in the freedom that comes from my standing in Christ here and now. But I also am painfully aware of the degree to which I still fall short of his perfection. Amy Grant had a song years ago that spoke of this:

No longer what we were before
But not all that we will be
Tomorrow when we lock the door on all our compromising
When He appears
He'll draw us near and we'll be
Changed by His glory
Wrapped up in His glory

But I'm caught in between the now and the not yet
Sometimes it seems like forever and ever
That I've been reaching to be all that I am
But I'm only a few steps nearer
Yet I'm nearer

I recently relocated one of my favorite quotations, from Martin Luther. It echoes this sentiment:

This life therefore is not righteousness,
But growth in righteousness;
Not health, but healing;
Not being, but becoming;
Not rest, but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be
But we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished,
But it is going on.
This is not the end,
But it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory,
But all is being purified.

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2

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