The Christian Scriptures teach that the world exists in an already but not yet tension. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians and the entire cosmos have been liberated from the slavery of sin’s power (Romans 6). On the other hand, Christians are bound for the new heavens and the new earth, and, along with this current creation, we will be set free and experience the redemption of our bodies as sons and daughters of God in Christ (Rom. 8:18-25).
But now, we patiently await our future liberation, namely, the redemption of our bodies (Rom 8:18-25). And we await the goal of our faith, namely, the salvation of our souls (1 Pet. 1:3-9). Christians acutely feel this already-not-yet tension during times of grief due to racial injustice.
By now, most people in the U.S. have seen the images of black men dying from gunshots of the police. And everyone has seen images of the innocent cops and civilians in Dallas who were gunned down by the racist sniper. Although the deaths of all image bearers deserve grief and mourning, some political pundits and media outlets seem to suggest that to grieve for the black men who died at the hands of cops contradicts one’s ability to grieve for the cops who died at the hands of a black sniper and vice versa. In my view, the bible exhorts Christians to grieve for all image bearers, because of the already-not-yet tension of the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is an important element of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels. In Mark 1:15, Jesus’ first sermon focused on the kingdom of God. He urges his audience to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand. There are at least 5 major interpretations of the meaning of Jesus’ words: (1) a political view (a Davidic-like kingdom is about to be established), (2) the non-eschatological view (a new, spiritual rule of God will be established in the human heart), (3) the consistent eschatological view (the final judgment will soon take place), (4) the realized eschatological view (the promised rule of God now has arrived in its entirety), and (5) the already-not-yet view (the reign of God has begun now in that the OT promises are being fulfilled in Jesus and the promised Spirit is once again being active and would soon dwell in every believer, but the final consummation of the present evil age awaits the future).
View 5 seems to best make sense of Jesus’ words in the gospels and the apostles’ preaching in Acts. Namely, the kingdom of God promised in the OT (2 Sam. 7:12-14; Psalm 2, 110), has now broken into history through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the seed of David (Matthew 3). God’s reign has arrived in the coming of Jesus Christ and has now broken into this present evil age (Gal. 1:4). The arrival of the kingdom of God is realized in the preaching and ministry of Jesus (Mark 1:15; 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1, 47; 10:14, 15, 23, 24, 25; 12:34; 15:43). The miraculous healings throughout the gospel of Mark and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 further prove that Jesus inaugurates and establishes the kingdom of God on earth.
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SOURCE: Reformed African American Network