My first son was born while I was still in college. I was taking life at a fast pace, and he wasn’t up with the pace I was running on – he couldn’t even crawl, let alone run. I remember asking my wife, almost daily, when he would begin crawling and talking, thinking he was progressing at a slow rate. She chided me as he was only 2 months old. I kept longing for the day my son would walk, talk, run, and wrestle. I am now at the point to where he can do all those things, and it’s wonderful, but it’s mingled with sadness. See up until he has reached this point, his entire life, I was longing for this stage. While I was longing, I was missing. I missed his entire life waiting on the “real fun” to begin.
Most Christians are exactly like I was with my son, affected by the same syndrome. They’re longing for the day when they will “go to heaven” and really start living. Not seeing that Christ came that we might have abundant life NOW. There are some who say “Eternal life is a present possession.”, but they mean nothing substantially different than anyone else, as this dualism has affected them also. All they mean is that the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die is something you can have now, thus giving you the ability to make it through this life in hopes of the next. Spending this present life wishing things were better and waiting for the time they can enjoy the eternal life they claim to presently possess. Viewing this life simply as an “investment” for the next, they fail to realize they are wishing their life away.
This syndrome creates a dualistic outlook consisting of a spiritual world where things really matter, and a physical world which is relegated to nothing more than kindling for the judgmental fires of God. This perspective fails to see that God is the Creator God Who is all about redeeming all of creation, not just nebulous souls that are longing to cast their fleshy shells on the garbage heap in exchange for some type of new “spiritual” existence. Forgetting that God pronounced His creation good, they spend the beginnings of their new life wishing their new life would start. Victims of the “can’t wait ‘till I grow up” syndrome, they fail to truly engage in kingdom work. They ostracize themselves from culture, since they believe all this world has to offer is bad and will burn one day anyway. They have a distant look in their eye and can’t wait to walk on those golden streets. Instead of bringing God’s kingdom to bear upon His creation, they create a hierarchy of vocations, the “full time ministry” positions being the most important. They live in a world where there is secular and sacred. In short they fail to actually do what God has created them to do – image Himself. It’s been hinted at in previous posts on what that entails: Not only do we live morally pure lives, we create music, art, clothing styles – redeeming our native cultures, employing them as tools through which to tell the gospel story, worship our Creator God, and fulfill the task of imaging Him. We tell stories (through various media), create technology, harness resources, etc. Setting up signposts wherever we go, showing others what it’s like to live as a citizen of God’s Kingdom – pointers to the reality of the new creation and anchors for the hope of when it comes in its fullness.
We should, and do, anticipate the time when Jesus will appear and the kingdom will come in it’s fullness, but not to the neglect of actually living it now; just as I anticipate the day when my sons will become men, but not to the neglect of enjoying them as babies, little boys, and young men. As a matter of fact, the neglect of the first part of their lives will drastically affect the development of the second. All we do as believers is kingdom work, not just what we classify as evangelism. If we so much as give a cup of water in the name of the Kingdom we will be rewarded (Mark 9:41). We should be bringing God’s kingdom to bear everywhere we go, in all we do.
So what am I trying to say? Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10)