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An Under-Realized God

An Under-Realized God

An over-realized eschatology – it’s the phrase my pastor often pulls out when we chat about brokenness, both big and small.

And I get how it becomes a thing, how it’s so incredibly easy to extend God’s promises of redemption and restoration beyond their bounds, assuming that He has told us that He will heal all things now.  We ought to have a theology on what is to come, but when we overextend it, demanding for now what has been promised for Heaven, we assume little of God and make much of ourselves.

The line between anticipating the promises of Revelation 21, that God’s dwelling place will be amongst His people, and demanding those promises now, that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, seems to be thin. But I, too, feel the desire to demand them.

I want to demand them because life is hard. I want to demand them because I’ve mourned broken dreams and I’ve cried over a broken world. I want to demand reconciliation and restoration, here and now, because anything less than that is messy and hard and less than ideal, and what kind of God would leave me in a situation that is less than ideal?

A God whose ways are higher than my ways. That kind of God.

I could flip the question: what kind of God reconciles Himself to a people who, across time and space, mocked and reviled Him? What kind of God would seek to restore relationship with the people who crucified Him? What’s more, what kind of God willingly goes to the cross to seek that very restoration and reconciliation?

A God whose ways are higher than my ways. That kind of God.

This over-realized eschatology, our demanding of God’s promises outside of His divine timing, make little of Him and much of ourselves. We stand in awe of our own sin, and of the pain the sin of others brings to our lives, rather than standing in awe of a God who would choose to enter in. We are shocked by our suffering, rather than being shocked that there may be a glorious day to come.

Though I hope my life is not patterned after Job’s, I have to admire his understanding of God and suffering: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26)

I won’t claim to understand suffering, or to understand why God allows certain things to happen. But I have come to terms with the fact that I may never see certain things in my life restored and reconciled on this side of Heaven, and I would not trade one second of earthly reconciliation for the full redemption of my sins, for the gift of spending eternity with my Father who sees me fully and loves me still.

If God is a god who does not allow suffering to those who belong to him, then I am terrified. But if God is a god who walks with us in our suffering, who is fighting on our behalf in an otherwise un-winnable battle, who has chosen to redeem, in His time, every horrible thing I have experienced and done, then I live in great joy and hope.

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – (2 Corinthians 4:13-18)

That is all that I have to know. The very same Spirit who raised Jesus from the grave is at work in me, bringing me into the presence of the Lord. I will endeavor daily to bring about restoration and reconciliation in my community and in my world, all the while knowing that it is the work of the Lord, who works on a very different timeline and perspective from my own.

And I will pray as John did as he closed out Revelation: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

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Jessica Fields

Jessica Fields is a coffee-drinking, world-traveling, soon-to-be graduate student. She grew up in Winston-Salem, went to college in Chapel Hill, and will be living in Brisbane, Australia for the foreseeable future. She is passionate about Jesus and the radically transformative power of the Gospel. She also loves baking and cozy afternoons, so consider yourself invited over for baked goods, coffee, and chats about faith and life!

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