The War Zone of Redemption
“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” - Romans 13:11-12
This is not the time to be spiritually asleep. Every moment we get closer and closer to the fulfillment of our salvation in the “not yet” sense. Do you sense the urgency? What we still long for and what God has promised to fulfill one day is coming.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4
Because this is coming, we have a hope to look forward to.
This hope IS our spiritual reality even in the midst of stumbling through this broken world. And having spiritual vision to lay hold of this hope will actually spur us on in our everyday life even despite our suffering. We don’t have it all yet, but one day we will! Let this hope spur us on to do good deeds, love people freely, and worship God with all that we are and all that we have. This is what it means to be spiritually awake: to see our future hope and connect it with our present reality.
Don’t get me wrong. Taking hold of this hope is not easy, but rather a battlefield in the middle of our addiction, temptation, and anguish. The good soldier will fight to take hold of their future hope in Christ and connect it with their present reality.
On this John Piper says, “And do this all the more, Paul says, because you know the time in which you live. Knowing the time well helps you love people the way you should. What is this time? In brief, it’s the time between Christ’s first coming and his second coming. We live in overlapping times. The age of forgiveness and righteousness and life and peace and purity and health and light and joy has come with the arrival of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. But the old age of guilt and sin and death and strife and sickness and darkness and misery still remains. We live in the overlap of these two ages. In Christ we are forgiven and accepted and empowered for holiness and love, but nothing is perfect yet on this earth. We still struggle with sin; we still get sick; we still die.”
So how does this hope affect our everyday life? For example, in Christ we know we are set free from sin, and one day we will sin no more. This is a spiritual reality AND a future hope. We long for it now, so it spurs us to pursue this promise even though we still fall into sin. Or, another example. God has promised His people that we will spend eternity worshipping Him in His presence. That is a future hope and a spiritual present reality that we have, and therefore it should spur us on to worship Him now and seek to spend time with Him in His presence. We long to be close to Him because we know one day the veil will be totally removed and we will be close to Him without sin/curse/evil holding us back (2 Corinthians 3:18). We know that what we see now is but in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12), leaving us wholly unsatisfied and longing to know more of God.
These future hopes and spiritual realities are promises from God that we take hold of now (as much as we can) while looking forward to the hope of the consummation of them in the future. In suffering, they spur us on to see past what is right in front of us to the promise of a life with God that we get a little taste of right here on earth. It leaves us longing for more even while quenching our thirst in the moment.
On a personal note, growing up I believed the lie that if I experienced bad thoughts and feelings, or sinned, or had any kind of struggle whatsoever, that must have meant that I was cut off from God for as long as I was in those places. This went so far as this - I believed that if I was doing something outside God’s will, then that meant I was far from God and unable to please Him or hear His voice. Just recently have I learned that if that were really the case, then none of us could ever have a relationship with Jesus ever because we are all unequivocally broken people 100% of the time! God does not need me to clean myself up before I can turn to Him. This is the grace of God - to meet us with His promises in the midst of our brokenness! Learning this has truly set me free. This is not as a crutch to keep sinning but as a motivation to run to him instead of trying to run away from every bad thing in my life.
There will always be suffering and brokenness and sin and pain on this part of the story, but true redemption is God showing us His spiritual realities as a future hope and something that can change our lives even now, in the midst of our brokenness. It’s so true that God ministers so closely to my heart when I am at the most vulnerable, at the end of myself, and in the most painful parts of life.
Has He met you on the battlefield like this?
There is something quite so beautiful about our future hope playing out in the war zone of redemption.