Living in the meantime

Here we are, on the other side of Easter. For those of us in the Christian church, we have celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. Resurrection, for the church, is a celebration of a victory that is not just for us but for the whole world. Resurrection reminds us that, in Christ, death is not the end of the story. Even in the darkest, closest and most difficult moments, death does not have the last word. In the end, life wins. Jesus’ return to life proclaims the truth that sin, hatred, evil and even death are defeated.

And yet, we live in a world in which sin still is real. Hatred and evil still impact us. Death is an all too present reality. We see it in the wider world, in realities like the presence of the systemic poverty, global violence and life-shattering diseases that run rampant. But we also see it in the microcosm of our lives, when we struggle with broken relationships, broken promises, broken lives for ourselves and those we love. So how do we reconcile the truth of resurrection’s victory with the reality in which we still live?

A very wise seminary professor of mine once said that, as Christians, we live in the now and not yet? of God’s kingdom. In other words, though sin and death have been defeated in the cross and the empty tomb, they still fight an eternally losing battle against God’s good will in our world. While, in Jesus’ resurrection, love has won and God’s promises have been proven true, we still live in the meantime. We live in the meantime period between the victory of the open grave and the fulfillment of all of God’s promises in our lives and in the world.

And the meantime is often a tough place to live. We are a people of hope, but we also are a people of struggle. We are a people who know God’s promises to be true, but still long for the day when they will all be fulfilled. We are a people who experience the death of those that we love, all the while proclaiming with the prophet Isaiah that death has been swallowed up in victory.

So how do we faithfully live, in the meantime? I believe that living in the meantime calls us to hold fast to God’s promises, to work in ways that usher in God’s kingdom, and to remember that, in the end, God, life and love win. And, in doing so, we look forward with all people to the end of the story foretold in John’s revelation: “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV).

– Leland is the pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in Montoursville.