The “already, but not yet”
Caleb Blow, Director of Junior High Ministries
In Peter’s second letter, he tells us that Jesus will return to restore His creation and Christ will bring more people into His kingdom while we wait. This is a beautiful passage. Nevertheless, the question stands, “Why do we find a reminder of Christ’s return during our Advent readings? Is this not a time to focus on his original coming? It’s Christmas!” But it’s no mistake that today’s Advent reading intentionally includes Peter’s reminder, and we should spend time thinking about Jesus’ second coming during the Christmas season.
Traditionally, Christmas is a time for celebrating and retelling the story of Jesus’ birth. Yet if remembering the birth of an important baby is all we do, I am afraid we have missed one of the great points of Christmas. While the incarnation was a joyous, crucial moment in the history of humankind, the point of this joyful event (and Jesus’ resurrection, for that matter) was to make possible the most wonderful moment in all history—the day when everything sad will become untrue. But we have not yet reached that moment. There is still sadness, tragedy, and heartbreak in our everyday lives. So much so that Paul says creation longs for this future moment with groaning like that of a woman in childbirth (Romans 8:22). That is a lot of anguish. Some theologians call this groaning the “already, but not yet.” The beauty of the Christmas story is that in the midst of the groans of Mary giving birth to her child, we meet the Child who will one day silence this groaning.
Jesus’ birth points us directly to the moment when the trump will resound, the Lord shall descend, and our savior Christ will finally bring refreshing, renewal, and restoration to His weary people and creation. That’s our hope this Christmas, and it is our privilege to reflect on these truths as we move towards Christmas Day.