Christians are a high-risk group for a life malady. It is a malady that can kill our joy, compromise our labor, and cripple our testimony in the world. It is the malady of living in the future, and not engaging with the now.
The Pursuit of the Future
One of the reasons why some Christians are at risk for this life malady is due to our belief, even right belief, about the future. We rightly believe that one day Jesus will return. He will set everything right. The world will return to a state of blessed bliss. All will be restored, and eternity will commence with absolute and unsullied purity.
That’s great. That’s true. That’s correct. But what about right now?
There is no problem with eschatological beliefs, especially when they are constrained by what the Bible actually says. There is no problem with believing such truths wholeheartedly, especially when they are part of a larger body of correct beliefs. The problem comes when Christians neglect an active and energetic life now, lived in the present world.
The Problems of Living the Future Now
There is, of course, nothing wrong with looking forward to the future and the beauty of a restored world and Christ’s reign. When we focus on the future, however, we may neglect the needs of the present. Here are some ways we risk going astray.
- We abuse the earth’s resources, because we believe it will all burn up (and be restored) some day.
- We neglect the problem of real human suffering in the present, because we believe that “saving souls” for the future is the only thing that matters.
- We dismiss political involvement, because we are looking forward to a future government with Jesus as King.
- We reject community building and improvement, because we believe that the future restoration is the only thing that matters.
- We ignore the need for global justice today, by focusing on the end-time judgment that will take place.
These are some of the problems that can arise when our vision is turned to the future, but blinded to the present.
Living in the Now, for the Future
As has been reinforced several times, there is nothing wrong with a robust belief in the future reign of Christ and the new heaven and new earth. In fact, such beliefs are integral to right living today.
For this reason, we would do well to life for the future rather than in the future. The problem of the future-gazers is not their belief. Rather, the problem is their wrong actions. Here are some guidelines for living in the now for the future.
- Our Christian life cannot be lived in the future. It must be lived out right now.
- Recognize God’s sovereign control over the future and right now.
- Realize that God has a will for our events and activities right now.
- Understand that our belief about the future is integral to living correctly right now.
Living in the now is the only way to live with purpose and passion. God has given us His word and His will, telling us how to direct our lives. The future is coming, but the present is here to prepare us for that day. The present is also here to allow us to live life to the maximum, serving others, loving our neighbor, worshipping our God, and engaging in the joyful intensity of life.