Christians live between two realities; on the one hand is regeneration and new birth, and on the other is the total transformation when we will be made perfect by God. We are expatriates from the land of our spiritual birth, but somehow it is an Eden that we have never seen and never visited.
We live in the now and the not yet.
There are truths about our lives today as Christians which will be fully realized one day. For now, however, there are still massive flaws in us all.
In many ways, this is like Israel’s possession of the Promised Land. God gave it to them. Every bit of it was theirs. But in terms of their enjoyment of it, Canaan bristled with strongholds resistant to the rule of God. When Israel did possess the land, in so many ways it seemed just a shadow of what God had promised. They were still sojourners longing for restored Eden.
Paul knew as a believer certain things were true of himself: he had been raised to new life with Christ. He was seated with Christ in the heavenly places. His life was hidden with Christ in God. He was completely justified as righteous before God and was beloved by God.
But Paul was honest enough to say that at times he despaired even of living (2 Corinthians 1:8). He could say, “O Wretched man that I am!” He all but fired John Mark as useless for ministry, and he separated from Barnabas over it (Acts 15:37-39). Yet, Mark would write the first chronological gospel. At the end of his life, Paul asked for Mark’s help in ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
Life is not what it could be. There are real mistakes, real sadness, and real loss. There are dreaded doctor’s visits, bad A1C numbers, high cholesterol; there are children or grandchildren not walking with the LORD, marriage challenges, injustices in the world, and riots in the streets. The Corona numbers are bad today. Maybe all the experiences in life are not what we wish they were, but the celestial city still stands. The Savior still reigns and loves us. He still knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us, to give us a future and a hope.
Also, when the faults of fellow believers rise to our eyes, there is a now and not yet there too. The promised transformation will be for all believers. The Christian so difficult now will be transformed into the perfect image of Christ one day. The faults will be gone. The foolish actions will cease.
There is a now, but there is also a not yet.