In a few days, my wife and I will welcome God’s gift of twins with a long-anticipated, long-hoped-for embrace. The drawing near of that day in which our anticipated joy will find its completion means that every day until then is oriented to that day. Rooms are rearranged. Bottles are cleaned. Rest is stockpiled. The future has commandeered the present. This day is different, it’s changed, because of that day.
Martin Luther said there were only two days on his calendar—this day and that Day. In other words, that future Day in which Christ will come and make all things new and this present day in which we anticipate His coming to make all things news are the only two days that matter. Luther understood something that we often fail to comprehend—the gospel of Jesus is not merely a past event. What God accomplished in Christ in the past made certain a future—that Day—in which the whole world will be freed from its bondage to sin.
What God accomplished in Christ in the past made certain a future—that Day—in which the whole world will be freed from its bondage to sin.
Unfortunately, the church has struggled to connect the past events of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension in a meaningful way to the present. It is certainly good and right to sing of the wonder of the cross where grace and love, like mighty rivers, poured incessant from above. We can never, ever afford to forget or even assume what God has done in the past. But we minimize both the message of the gospel and its implications when we make Jesus a religious relic to which we return on a weekly basis to pay homage. By doing so, the message of the gospel is reduced to a re-telling of past events, and therefore, the implications of the gospel are (unintentionally) constricted to the past, unable to reach meaningfully into the present or future. For example, if the reality of our twins was only a past event when God gave them life in the womb, there would be no meaningful implication for our life in the present. Perhaps we could give thanks to God for new life, but there would be little need to live in this day any differently than before because the future is unchanged. But in fact the past event of God giving life in the womb in the past means (Lord, willing) that He will sustain life outside the womb in the future. The past opens up a future that changes everything about the present. This day anticipates that day. There is a growing expectation, like child awaiting Christmas morning, of the Day that is yet to come. And this day pictures that Day. There are marks and signs in this day that indicate what that day will be like.
The past opens up a future that changes everything about the present.
Likewise, we will never connect the gospel in a deeply meaningful way to the present if we fail to see that the cross and empty tomb have opened up the future renewal of all things toward which the present is moving. In this way, this day is not simply an opportunity to remember the past but an occasion to act out the realities of that Day. The Christian life is not meant to be a ritualistic return to the cross but an eager preparation for the future the cross has made possible and certain. And because that Day will bring the renewal and restoration of all things, we can be at work in this day to foretell—in word and deed and in all of life—what is to come. We can act out the future restoration and renewal of all things in the present. We can exist in this day as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, neighbors and co-workers, friends and family, coaches and players, children and students, in a way that points forward to that Day.
The Christian life is not meant to be a ritualistic return to the cross but an eager preparation for the future the cross has made possible and certain.
Because the gospel is not merely the announcement of the past but also an invitation into a future, the gospel bears inescapable and undeniable weight on the present. As we set our gaze and hope upon that Day, this day will be transformed—the whole of it, not simply parts of it. There is a Day coming when Christ Jesus will rip open the skies and descend in glorious splendor to consummate His reign on the earth, and the infinite goodness of His reign will forever drive out sin and evil and death so that His world again flourishes in perfect harmony. Therefore, this present day is not its own—it exists for that Day. The whole of our life in the present is oriented to the reality of the future.
There is a Day coming when Christ Jesus will rip open the skies and descend in glorious splendor to consummate His reign on the earth, and the infinite goodness of His reign will forever drive out sin and evil and death so that His world again flourishes in perfect harmony.
Let us, then, labor in this day to prepare for and act out the redemption that is soon coming on that Day when our joy shall find its perfect completion in the eternal presence of Christ the King.