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Between Now and Then

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There are lots of things that make being a Christian…weird. What might be worst is that we live in to these little oddities without even noticing them. We’ve become so accustomed to them that they don’t even really flash across our radar.

For instance, perhaps our biggest celebration includes phrases like eat his body and drink his blood. Of course, we could spend an entire blog post working through what that actually means, but to the untrained ear that sounds kind of…odd. Or perhaps you like me are already starting to plan what you want to give up for Lent. Why would we as a religion choose to deny ourselves the things that we really love? What possible gain is there in that? Weird.

But I think one of the weirdest parts of Christianity, and of Christians in general, is that we are part of the already, but not yet. It’s a phrase that gets tossed around a lot, particularly among pastor types. But what does it mean?

Start with what is perhaps my favorite passage in the scriptures. “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) I love this passage because of the tense of the verb. It /is/ for freedom that Christ /has/ set us free. Not might set us free. Not perhaps could set us free someday. Not “If you’re really good, you’ll get the reward.” No, you are free already. Christ has done the work. It is finished. It is done. You are free.

And yet, we have to be warned to not submit again to sin. We are free, and yet there’s this temptation every day to slide back in to slavery. We have everything we need, and yet we want more. We already have forgiveness, but we don’t yet have it fully. Weird.

So what do we do between now and then? What do we do between the already present reality of our forgiveness, and the not yet realized potential of our future? I think the reality is that every day we are offered a choice as to which reality we want to live in to more. Do we want to live in to the already true reality of our freedom, our liberation, our forgiveness, and our mercy? Or do we want to continue to pine for the not yet actualization of the kingdom, to take matters in to our own hands, to blaze our own trails? I think that choice presents itself every, single, day.

So my encouragement to us is to live in to the verb tense. You have freedom. You have liberation. You have redemption. Live in to that, and focus less on what we don’t yet have. For as weird as it all must sound, it is truly a better way to live!

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