All who place their trust in Jesus look forward to a day when he will return and fully establish the kingdom of God. When this happens, Scripture promises that everything will change. There will be no more sickness, death, hunger, natural disasters, violence, fear, heartaches, sin, or evil. There will be no more racism, nationalism, social oppression, or war. There will be no more abuse, greed, or the pursuit of power. The principalities and powers that divide us will be defeated. This glorious hope empowers us to be optimistic about the future, even when the state of the world gives us many reasons to be pessimistic.
At the same time, followers of Jesus aren’t to simply wait for God’s kingdom to come and change everything. To the contrary, our job is to manifest the kingdom of God in the present moment. We are called to pray and live in such a way that God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven”—right now (Matt 6:10). As Gandhi said, we are to be the change we want to see in the world. This is how God changes the world.
While it’s indeed true that we—and all of creation‚ won’t be completely transformed until Christ returns, it’s also true that we have already been transformed. We are already changed and made new. We already have eternal life and are made participants in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). We are already new creations in Christ Jesus and have a new nature given to us by God’s grace (2 Cor 5:17). We are already filled with God’s Spirit and have overcome the Evil One. We are already seated with Christ in heavenly realms and blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 2:6).
This is why the New Testament refers to disciples as “firstfruits” of the coming kingdom (2 Thess 2:13; James 1:18; Rev 14:4). The “firstfruits” in ancient Israel referred to the fruit that ripened and was picked before other fruit. It was offered to God as an expression of gratitude and trust that God would provide for the rest of the harvest. We who place our trust in Jesus are called God’s “firstfruits” because, as people uniquely consecrated to God, we are empowered to put on display the coming harvest ahead of time. As much as possible, we are to manifest God’s transformation now what will be true for the whole creation in the future.
Some day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We who are God’s firstfruits are not supposed to wait for this to happen. We are empowered and called to bend our knee to Christ now.
Some day God’s perfect love and peace will characterize all of creation. We who are God’s firstfruits are not supposed to wait for this to happen. We are empowered and called to manifest God’s perfect love and peace now.
Some day there will be no more jealousy, envy, hatred, or violence in the world. We who are God’s firstfruits are not supposed to wait for this to happen. We are empowered and called to purge our lives of these sorts of diabolical things now.
Some day all evil will be vanquished and God will be “all in all.” God’s glorious presence will be displayed throughout the earth, and his perfect love will define every square inch of creation. We who are God’s firstfruits are not supposed to wait for this to happen. We are empowered and called to live in God’s glorious presence in the present and allow God’s love to define every aspect of our being right now.
While Jesus followers look forward to a time when all creation will be redeemed, this isn’t something we are to wait for. What will be true of the whole creation in the future is already in principle true for us right now. And our job is to live in a way that reflects this. We are God’s consecrated firstfruits of the coming harvest now.
—Adapted from Present Perfect, pages 149-151