“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” —Proverbs 3:5-6
When the Good News of God’s gracious gift of reconciliation through Jesus is understood correctly, it leads us to discover the life-altering realization that we have been set free from trying to earn favor with God. However, this freedom has been a difficult and dangerous truth for the Church to teach correctly.
Some churches fear that people will abuse this freedom, and so they focus on preaching messages that address our behavior. This can communicate the idea that the Christian life is all about working constantly on your life to make sure it lines up with the “Christian code of conduct.” This can become dangerous if people are unclear on the Christian beliefs that ought to motivate Christian behavior.
Other churches fear that people will fall into the kind of legalism I just mentioned, so they run in the other direction and preach messages that provide inspiration and promised blessings for this life. This tends to turn Jesus into more of an inspiring example and a mere helpful companion. It can become dangerous if people water down the seriousness of being reconciled to God and just wander through this life too casually.
The reality is that both of these extremes can become self-centered, self-driven and self-focused ways of approaching our relationship with God. The Christian life is not about working constantly on your life or wandering casually through your life. The Christian life is about waiting confidently for another life — an eternal life.
So now we must consider what it means to actually find ourselves in a position of waiting. In order to understand what it means to wait, we must first acknowledge that waiting always implies an object of focus. You cannot find yourself in a position of waiting unless there is something specific you are actually waiting for. So what are followers of Jesus waiting for?
The apostle Paul wrote about this, plainly declaring, “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope” (Galatians 5:5). Later, he also wrote, “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
As followers of Jesus, we ought to “groan inwardly,” desperately desiring the completeness of our redemption and transformation. We ought to be eagerly expecting and confidently waiting for “the hope of righteousness,” which is the new life with our Lord that God has promised us.
Do you find yourself eagerly awaiting the eternal life God has promised and provided for us in Jesus? A good measure of our Christian condition is whether or not there is a strong desire in the depths of our soul that longs for more of the power and presence of God than we currently comprehend and experience.
—Terry Evans, chaplain for the Atlanta Braves