Reimagine: How to Live Your Present in Light of God’s Future

Living in the Present In Light Of God's Future

Your life, your career, your ministry—all of it lies a thousand miles away as you sit alone in a one-room cell, praying to God that He would make sense of your present condition.

Now, imagine God answers that prayer.

Imagine God sends an angel to open the heavens and reveal the deep mysteries of what He’s doing in the world and just how the story’s going to end.

Next, imagine vivid representations of a great battle, a wedding feast, and a joy-filled reunion.

And finally, imagine a city descending from the sky and peoples from every tribe and nation gathering around His throne and singing praises to Him and the Lamb.

Now, let all that grandeur fade as you suddenly return to your one-room cell. You know what you saw was real—the one true Witness guarantees as much. But, there you are all alone, still separated from the life you once knew.

Holy Discontentment

In case you didn’t notice, the short scene we walked through above was the one that spurred John to write the book of Revelation.

I wanted to start there because it gives us a vivid example of something we commonly miss in the Christian life: holy discontentment.

Christians have a lot of good and important things to say about contentment. After all, Paul taught us how to be content in whatever situation we happen to face (Philippians 4:12).

Reimagine: How to Live Your Present in Light of God's Future

How do we live in the tension of being in the present and longing for the future?

For all our good words here, I fear we often miss something that longing that John must’ve felt as soon as he put his pen down. Yes, God wants us to be content (Hebrews 13:5), but, at the same time, we’re called to long for something we don’t yet have.

In Romans 8:23, discontentment looks like a groan-filled longing for the day when God will redeem our bodies and completes our adoption into His family. Similarly, in 2 Corinthians 5:2, we groan in the tent of our earthly bodies, “longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.”

There’s a future focus to our faith—a legitimate, God-ordained longing for that which is to come. And, this longing for the future is meant to color how we live in the present.

The Tension Between ‘Already’ and ‘Not Yet’

Theologians talk about this discontentment as the “already/not-yet.”

Paul highlighted this when he wrote: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11–14, ESV)

In Christ, the grace of God has already appeared, bringing salvation and transformation to believers who live in the “present age”. That transformation, however, can only be understood in light of the future glory that has not yet appeared (Titus 2:11-14).

The early Church struggled to understand both sides of this tension.

On one side, some false teachers argued that the ‘already’ had completely swallowed up the ‘not yet.’ Like many in the prosperity gospel movement, they taught that you could have heaven today, without having to wait for it to come tomorrow.

Scholars have long argued that this was the issue in Corinth.

Reimagine: How to Live Your Present in Light of God's Future

A tension exists for believers between ‘already’ and ‘not yet’

A Present or Future Reality?

Have you ever wondered why a group of believers got together and celebrate sexual immorality (1 Cor 5:1-13)? They did so because they thought it was a pious display of their new freedom in Christ! Jesus had died, the end had already come in some super-spiritual way, and they believed all that was left was to eat, drink, and be merry (cf. 1 Cor 15:32).

Against this, Paul had to remind them of a future still to come and why it mattered that they live upright, holy lives in the present (1 Cor 15:29-34; cf. 2 Thess 2:2).

On the other side, there were those who said that final day would never come. Ensnared by their own desires to live sinfully in the present age, they asked where God was and why He was taking so long to make His grand appearance (2 Pet 3:3-4).

Like the modern-day naturalist, they argued that humans have been in this world far too long to believe in a God who intends to bring it to an end.

Against that, Peter replied: remember the God who made this world long ago (2 Peter 3:5). Look at the flood; as sure as God acted then, so He’ll work again in future judgment (3:6-7). He isn’t “slow” to fulfill His promise; He’s patient (3:8-9).

How Do We Live in The Tension?

This tension marks our lives.

The Son has already won the final battle, but He’s not yet put an end to the mundane battles you and I face on a daily basis.

We have already been made perfect, but we’ve not yet experienced the glory of what it means to live perfectly redeemed in the presence of the Father.

We’ve already received a heavenly inheritance—sealed by the Holy Spirit as its guarantee—but we’ve not yet entered into full possession of it.

So, how do we live in this place? In the passages we’ve glanced at, I think we have a clue.

Paul says that the appearance of Jesus Christ has trained us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” as we wait for His future appearance (Titus 2:12-13).

Peter reminds us of what sort of people we should be “in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (3:11).

Reimagine Your Life in Light of God’s Love

Life between the first and second coming of Christ is a constant exercise in self-denial. Over and over, we die to what we were to live into what we’ve become. We embrace our holy calling, not as a new legalism but an invitation to enjoy the fullness of life in God’s family.

We live as a people of the promise, trusting that a better future isn’t wishful thinking, but a fixed reality accomplished for us in the crucified flesh of Jesus Christ.

It’s in light of that promise that God invites us to reimagine our lives in light of His love.

If you’re looking for a practical way to implement these things, check out our I Can Only Imagine Study.

I Can Only Imagine Church Resources Exclusively at City On a Hill

Check out these exclusive ‘I Can Only Imagine’ Resources.

The I Can Only Imagine Small Group Kit combines a 4-Episode video series (featuring Bart Millard from MercyMe) with a 28-day Journal and a wisdom-filled Leaders’ Guide that makes it easy to lead your small group on a journey of redemption and healing. Through this walk of the life and ministry of Jesus, you’ll learn how to recall, reorient, and reimagine your life in Christ.

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