Yesterday, I introduced the tension of living in the “already-not yet” kingdom. (See post here.) There I referred to the fact that we are living between D-Day (the point at which WW2 was won) and V-Day (the point at which WW2 was officially over).
Another way Scripture expresses this reality is by referring to Jesus-followers as the “first fruit” of those who now “sleep” (I Cor. 15:20). The “first fruit” in ancient Israel was fruit picked before the rest of the crop. These early pickings were consecrated to God and were considered the sign of assurance that God would bring to fruition the rest of the crop (e.g. Ex. 23:19).
Jesus is the first human to be resurrected from the dead and thus the first human who is everything God destined humans to be. As such, Jesus is the “first fruit” of a coming harvest. He is the sign of assurance that God will bring to fruition the rest of the crop and the one clear picture we have of what this crop will look like. When God’s project for the earth is complete and the war is over, all who submit to the Kingdom will be resurrected and will reflect God’s love and dominion just as Jesus now does. D-Day will finally give way to V-Day.
What this means is that followers of Jesus are to manifest, as much as possible, the future of the human race under the reign of God. Whatever will be true on V-Day, we’re to manifest now.
Whatever will be done away with on V-Day, we’re to be free of now.
We, of course, aren’t to strive to do this on our own power. Nor are we to do this in order to gain God’s approval. Rather, we are called to put the coming Kingdom on display now because, as a matter of fact, God has already freed us and empowered us live under his reign now. By giving us a new identity and imparting to us the Spirit, the character of our coming groom is within us, longing to be expressed. As we strive to manifest all that is consistent with the loving reign of God, we are learning how to be who we already truly are—the beloved bride of Christ.
When the Kingdom is fully established, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phi. 2:11). Empowered by the Spirit, we who are the collective bride of Christ and the first fruits of the coming harvest are to manifest the beauty of a submitted Kingdom life now.
When God’s reign is fully manifested, everyone will get their life from Christ and the world will be free of idolatry. Empowered by the Spirit, we who are betrothed to Christ are to get our life from Christ and live free of all idolatry now.
When God establishes a new heaven and a new earth, there will be no more pride, jealousy, anger, malice, unforgiveness, immorality, and the like. Empowered by the Spirit, all who are pledged to Christ are to “put off” all such things now (Eph. 4:29-31).
When the oppressive Powers are fully destroyed, there will be no more demonization, sickness or disease. Empowered by the Spirit, and following the example of Christ, we who are first fruits of the coming reign of God are to come against demonization, sickness and disease now.
When the entire cosmos becomes the domain of God’s loving reign, God will be “all in all” and his self-sacrificial love will define every centimeter of the universe (Eph 1:22). Empowered by the Spirit, we who are the first fruits of the coming harvest are called to imitate Jesus and let God be “all in all” in our life now, allowing his self-sacrificial love to define our every thought, attitude, word and behavior.
When God’s Kingdom is fully established, all national, ethnic and cultural walls shall be abolished and the “one new humanity” Jesus died for shall be fully realized (Eph 2:15). People from every tribe, culture and nation will come together under the Lordship of Christ (Rev. 7). Empowered by the Spirit, we who are first fruits of the coming harvest are called to tear down these walls and manifest this “one new humanity” now.
When God’s will is fully established on earth as it is in heaven, there will be no more power structures privileging some people over others: men over women, rich over poor, intelligent over the intellectually challenged, talented over the untalented, whites over non-whites, or anything of the sort. We are to manifest the beauty of a non-hierarchical humanity now (Gal. 3:28).
When the entire creation becomes the domain of God’s reign, humanity and all of creation shall be free of violence, as it was always intended to be (Gen. 1:20-30, cf. Isa 11). Empowered by the Spirit, we who have already been saved from the tyranny of the violent Powers are called to live free from all violence now.
Following Christ’s example, and empowered by the Spirit, the bride is to be the already amidst the not yet.
Bless you all as we embark on a brand new year. We’re praying that the Kingdom of God penetrates the darkness of our world with light and peace and love that reflects his goodness. Photo credit: Marcia Erickson
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