Advent reflection: Living in the now and not yet


I will be the first to admit that I'm addicted to technology; totally and utterly obsessed with social media. I fool myself into thinking that this comes with the territory of the job I'm paid to do. One of the first things I do when I wake up is check Facebook – and that's the first of many checks throughout the day. And it seems to me that nothing has actually happened until I've tweeted it or uploaded a pretty pictorial version of an event onto Instagram. And all of this is made ever more accessible as I can reach it with a quick swipe or a touch of a button on my iPhone which is constantly at my side.

There are so many good things about this: the feeling of interconnectedness that it brings between myself, those around me and those geographically distant. The sheer mass of information we are presented with when we log in. The endless possibilities.

But all of this is a by-product of a 24-hour news society in which we want to know everything, and we want to know it right now. The news never stops: the scandal, the tragedy, the outrage – the hilarious and the downright bizarre.

And we feed on it. We thrive on this pace of life, this information overload.

There's a major downfall of all this, though. It's all that bad news.

As a former newspaper journalist, I know that it's the bad news that sells. It's the negative that draws people in. There's far too much of it though: plane crashes and conflict and rapes and suicides and videos of beheadings. Our minds become saturated with images of the horrors going on at home and abroad; the people prepared to give their lives for their cause – and to take other people's lives with them.

In the New Testament, we read that none of this is a surprise. It's predicted that those of us living in the now-and-not-yet – the period in between Jesus' birth and his coming again to make all things new – will face unsettling days.

It's clear to me that when I read Mark 13:1-8 that I'm a child of these times.

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains."

These stories are familiar to us because they're just like the ones we read in our newspapers and Twitter streams and Facebook timelines.

There are times when it all gets a bit much. When the heart of humankind seems irredeemably dark and nature seems so "red in tooth and claw", as Tennyson put it.

But time and again, we are told in the New Testament not to worry. Here in Mark, we are told that: "When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet."

The end is not yet.

There is a hope that's to come. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. The darkness is only temporary. There's something we're waiting for as the earth groans and the weapons are taken up and as the seas rage.

In this age of immediacy, it's so hard to wait. We want the good things now. We want beauty, peace, love, success, achievement right now. We want to be made whole.

In Hebrews 10:12-13, we read that although Jesus' sacrificial act has reconciled us to God; we are waiting for its fulfilment.

"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."

I love that Christ sat down.

There was none of this rushing and flapping about; this flickering from screen to screen; this incessant search for hope and meaning.

Christ sat down because it was finished.

And there's an air of confidence and stillness when you know you've completed a task. There's a peace that comes when you're certain something is going to happen.

As Christians we should stand firm: peaceful in the knowledge that the work's been done – waiting patiently for the day when we see God's kingdom come here on earth. That day when there'll be no more wars and rumours of wars; where nations won't rise up against each other – and when all will be as it should be.

Chine Mbubaegbu is head of media and communications at the Evangelical Alliance. Follow her on Twitter.