Holidays are weird. I’ve found that they often breed more tension than other days of the year because they come with lots of expectations. Unmet expectations, the wise Kevin Hall once told me, are the root of every relational conflict we experience. But this Father’s day I’ve experienced a very interesting emotion: tension.
Most of you know my wife Julia and I are expecting a baby girl, Evelyn Rose Mooney, on July 25th, 2012. This has left me in a really weird position during this Father’s day… I’m kinda a father, but not yet fully a father. I have a child, but she hasn’t yet emerged into this world, ready to make it a better place, so I’m left in this awkward tension of kinda father/fully father. I don’t feel like a father yet- I don’t have a little girl to hold, to give baths, to cuddle with yet so I don’t really feel like a father. But I am a father. Though Evelyn isn’t in the world to brighten my day and lengthen my nights, she still is. She exists and is among my family… my wife’s profile attests to it! I have fatherly responsibilities, to take care of my wife, to prepare our home for Evelyn, and to make sure we have all the medical things taken care of (let’s be honest… Julia’s been doing most of that…), but I haven’t fully experienced fatherhood yet, things like teaching my daughter to walk, taking her on daddy-daughter dates, teaching her how to make espr… cookies, how to behave appropriately, etc.
This tension of having a something already be a reality but not a full reality is exactly the same sort of tensions Christians have felt through the ages. We are currently experiencing the reality that God’s Kingdom is being injected into the world, but it has not been fully realized. Bible scholars and theologians refer to this phenomena as the “already/not yet eschatology.” The word eschatology comes from the Greek word “eschatos” which means ‘final’ and “logos” which means ‘word/reason’ so eschatology is the reasoning (study) of final things, sometimes called the “end times.”
Eschatology, in Evangelicalism, has unfortunately taken on a very “Left Behind” vibe, where the Antichrist will come and some nation, likely some communist country like Russia (wait, they aren’t communist anymore?) or China, will rise up to make the world into a “One World Government.” This paranoia of “the beast” and all sorts of crazy prophecies of Christians coming under intense persecution and such, while having some Biblical merit (highly dependent on how you read Apocalyptic literature in the Bible), strips away much of the important value to studying eschatology from our lives. For the longest time I completely avoided eschatology because there are so many interpretations (some people think Revelation is a prophecy where John was predicting modern technology… other people see many of the forward thinking prophecies as being already fulfilled) and so many people will call you a heretic for having a different interpretation than they do. However, since attending Northwest University, I’ve come to appreciate eschatology in a much deeper way.
When Christ came to the Earth he began the process of eschatology, the process of God restoring the Earth to the way it was in Eden. Luke 11:20 tells us that with Christ came the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God (Matthew generally refers to it as the Kingdom of Heaven to avoid offending Jewish readers because the name of God was to be used sparingly) is where God’s will is done- both “on Earth… and in Heaven.” The Kingdom of God is now, when Christians gather together to celebrate Jesus, we are participating in the Kingdom of God. When Christians feed the widow and orphan, we are participating in the Kingdom of God. When we comfort the downtrodden and marginalized, we are participating in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God exists now.
But it is not fully here. We still live in a world marked by brokenness and suffering. We still taste pain and hurt. We still see injustice in the world. We cannot see God’s perfect Kingdom just yet. But it is coming. God will restore our earth from the brokenness we have caused. Through Adam came sin into the whole world, but through Christ sin will be removed- and has been removed! This fallen world we live in will be restored to paradise- we will live in good relationships, we will not harm the Earth, we will not experience sickness, suffering, or pain.
Just like I am a father but not yet a father, so too is this world restored and not yet restored. Take hope! The day is coming where we will experience completion and joy, just like the day is coming where I will get to hold my baby girl in my arms and teach her about God’s graces in this world.