I think I have been feeling stuck lately, unable to reconcile the glorious picture I see in the Word of how the Body of Christ is supposed to be and what I actually see in the Body of Christ, including myself. Because of this, I have been feeling disillusionment—reluctance to engage with other Christians and even a reluctance to engage with God because the Biblical standard of love and relationship in the Body just does not compute with what I see in myself or others. In fact, my worst experiences in relationships have been with Christians. Somehow this inconsistency made me doubt on some level how what I am seeing in Scripture could even be true! Sometimes it has caused me to "ask" (read: “sinfully accuse God”), “does the gospel really work?!” Today, in conversation with a dear friend, it occurred to me that maybe I am asking the wrong question. The presence of sin does not negate the truth or effectiveness of the gospel. The gospel ASSUMES the presence of sin. The reason it is good news that Jesus died for my sins is because I am sinful and I needed Him to save me—it was/is my only hope! God’s sanctification of me (process of making me holy) is not finished yet. Although I am justified (i.e. forgiven and saved because God the Father looks at Jesus’ perfect work of obedience and His perfect payment of the punishment for my sin), God is doing a work in me and in all of His people today, but He is also not finished! My brothers and sisters in Christ and I still have plenty of sin! We still need gospel application TODAY in our lives because we still sin! And yes, it is true that what I see in myself and what I see around me does not measure up to the beautiful picture and calling I see in God’s Word. Part of the pain of that is the groaning of living in the already (already justified, already seeing in part God’s beauty, already seeing in part how things are supposed to be, already experiencing in part sanctification and redemption) and the not yet (not yet seeing the whole picture of who God is and what His plan is and all the areas where I am not yet in conformity, not experiencing the fullness and completion of His sanctification and redemption, etc.). Living in the already and not yet, produces groaning in us.
It’s all right here in one of my most favorite chapters of Scripture and I never made this connection before:
Romans 8:18-25 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Part of the pain of not being able to reconcile what we see in Scripture and what we see in our lives is that we do have first fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit has done a work in us… but there is much more He is going to do in us. And so we must rest on faith---hope in what is unseen, which includes the promise of God that He is working all things out for our good--which is conforming us to the image of Christ.
Does this make sense?...because this is a raw, rough, unpolished post that is little more than an attempt for me to process and remember what God is teaching me right now.