We talked this Sunday about what a big part of life waiting is.
We must wait for this and that, it’s inevitable and usually not enjoyable. We wait, but we wait impatiently. We also talked a bit about how central the idea of waiting is to our faith – the Christian faith. We wait for the promised Second Coming, when all will be set to rights: perfect justice, complete fulfillment, full adoption as sons of God, every tear wiped away.
Yep. That’s what we are waiting for. And we – the church – have been waiting for that for around 2000 years now. But are we waiting for anything else? Someone in class mentioned the idea that we’re waiting for death, so that we can enter heaven. Well, yes. I guess so. Paul wrote that to him “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” But are we waiting for anything else?
Someone in class mentioned having inadvertently listened to a gospel-music radio program the other day and being impressed by how all the songs were about getting away to heaven. You know, “this world is not my home” and all of that. Undoubtedly, there is a sense in which that is true, but it seems to me that there is a possibility of an unchristian escapism here. In many ways, this world is our home. It’s where our living friends and relatives are and the place where all of those relationships unfold and flourish (or not).
Maybe when we say “the world” in the sense used here we don’t mean “the earth.” Rather, we mean the mess that Satan and fallen humanity have made out of society and the conditions of the human race. But the earth – this place where we, ahem, live, is a place of staggering beauty and wonder and we don’t honor God or really know His grace if we don’t appreciate the beauty of His creation.
Are those gospel songs the product of an unhealthy escapism? Are they written maybe not so much by inspired saints as by those who have simply failed at their own duties to love, flourish, prosper, and to appreciate life here and now? Are they written by those who may be jealous of the success and happiness of others – who may have flourished – and want to sing about the day when they will “get even?”
What are we waiting for? The Second Coming? Well, yes. Heaven? Well, yes. But look at these verses from Eugene Peterson’s translation (The Message) of Paul’s letter to the Romans:
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”
Romans 8: 15
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5: 3-5
I don’t know about you, but I can’t read these verses – at least this translation of them – without concluding that we are right to wait expectantly not only for the Second Coming and not only for death, but for life, here and now, as God unfolds it before our eyes. If that is the case, it occurs to me to ask of myself: am I waiting in the right way? Am I waiting for the right things? Do I even see God’s grace as it unfolds? Do I thus frustrate His plans? And fail to appreciate Him and this life He has given me?
Am I living in black and white when God has offered me life in color?