"Already but not yet." That's a striking way of describing the breaking in of the reign of God. It has already come--but not yet in its fullness. We await the consummation when Christ returns. Probably most Christians find themselves leaning in one direction or the other. "Already Christians" are amazed at the power, signs, wonders, and answered prayers that are all around them. I'm a "not yet Christian." While I believe that the reign of God has broken in, I mostly see evidence of what remains to come. I can identify with the language of Paul that we (and all creation) long, groan, wait, and hope. I deeply love "already Christians." I need to be prodded by them. But I don't share much of their outlook. And it seems at times like their hyper-confidence is damaging to struggling people. When they talk about all the times God has spoken to them, I think of all the silences. When they speak of instantaneous healings, I remember all the people I've pleaded with God to heal but who died (including my daughter). When they talk about how God keeps pouring down his blessings (often meaning homes, cars, vacations, etc.), I think of all the people who become poorer as a result of their faith. They speak of a way of blessing. The gospel speaks of a blessing that involves loss and persecution. They leapfrog to Easter Sunday; the gospel goes through Good Friday and Silent Saturday. There are so many God-lovers who beg God to take away their depression, but it remains. There are many who ask him to remove their homosexual desires, but the temptations keep coming at them. (And for some of them it only makes it worse when they hear the testimonies of people who were instantaneously "cured" -- as in, "Why does God care more about them than about me?") I love these words from Larry Crabb (another "not yet Christian," I believe after reading so many of his excellent books): Modern Christianity, in dramatic reversal of its biblical form, promises to relieve the pain of living in a fallen world. The message, whether it’s from fundamentalists requiring us to live by a favored set of rules or from charismatics urging a deeper surrender to the Spirit’s power, is too often the same: The promise of bliss is for now! Complete satisfaction can be ours this side of heaven. Some speak of the joys of fellowship and obedience, others of a rich awareness of their value and worth. The language may be reassuringly biblical or it may reflect the influence of current psychological thought. Either way, the point of living the Christian life has shifted from knowing and serving Christ till He returns to soothing, or at least learning to ignore, the ache in our soul. . . . Beneath the surface of everyone’s life, especially the more mature, is an ache that will not go away. It can be ignored, disguised, mislabeled, or submerged by a torrent of activity, but it will not disappear. And for good reason. We were designed to enjoy a better world than this. And until that better world comes along, we will groan for what we do not have. An aching soul is evidence not of neurosis or spiritual immaturity, but of realism. The experience of groaning, however, is precisely what modern Christianity so often tries to help us escape.