Revisiting some older texts on eschatology for input on some issues that I’m having difficulty processing at the moment, I came across these words from Nigel G. Wright:
‘There is no room for triumphalism, the easy celebration of victory or superiority. But there is room for, and a need of, the underlying sense of confidence and triumph, of victory that has already been won and that will one day be complete…
In the period of extension of the kingdom of God, Christians need a proper sense of the ”even now” and the ”not yet”.
The kingdom has come and is among us; therefore we may expect evidence of its presence and power. It is present as a dynamic force, which means that tomorrow has already broken into today.
We have a foretaste of what is to be and signs of the coming reality. Still, the kingdom is not yet. It is not fully come and manifest. We only know in part or possess in part.
We will have enough now to sustain us but not enough completely to satisfy us or leave us feeling there is nothing more to hope for. Christian existence is strength and weakness, success and failure, cross and resurrection.
When we are tempted to despair we need to remember that it was not in spite of but through Gethsemane and Golgotha that the world’s redemption was achieved.’ [I]
What I hear Wright saying is that since we exist between the lines there is a need to push against a deluded human triumphalism towards the more accurate awareness and knowledge of how humanity is grasped by grace in God’s triumph.
Of how it is that, in, through and with Jesus Christ we can stand in contradistinction from the self-reliant, often destructive ego and accept that it is not by our might or our strength, but by the decisive good will, freely spoken Word and suffering of God that we are, can and will be more than what this world or sin defines us to be.
Although we are stuck between opposing forces or struggle against being sucked back into the darkness from which we have been saved, we are not without God’s assistance. Something which is grounded in His ultimate triumph and the subtly evident, but hidden presence of the fellowship that this reconciled.
The world moves on oblivious of this timeline. Conveniently ignorant of the distinction and the dialectic (the ”now”, but ”not yet”; grace and judgement), though not completely unaware of the present indwelling of God’s kingdom; His gracious prodigal authority or the presence of things to come that it signposts.
[i] Wright, N.G. 2002 A Theology Of The Dark Side: Putting the Power of Evil in Its Place Wipf & Stock Publishers IVP (pp.162-163)
Image: Bell tower at the Anglican Cathedral, Grafton, NSW.