This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Notes on "fulfilled time"

In Mark 1:15 Jesus talks about fulfilled time.  In fact it is the first thing he says in the gospel of Mark: "The time is fulfilled."  

Fulfilled time is resurrection time.  It is time viewed from the perspective of resurrection.  It knows the positive and blessed issue of our time, which is that "all things work together for good," as Paul says in Romans 8.  It means that, in the end, the world is a safe place of blessing and glory, life and love.  It means that life always wins, in the end.  The "end" of the world is Jesus Christ, and our "end," that is, our goal, purpose, and function, is to glorify and enjoy God in him.

To live in fulfilled time is to live in time with constant reference to the end of time, the future.  It is to live backwards, as it were.  Maybe this is one of the meanings of repentance, shub in Hebrew, meaning turning around and proceeding in the opposite direction.  Instead of living in time normally, from the past into the future, we are to live in fulfilled time.  That is, we are to live in a present that is always aimed at, and in the inexorable gravitational pull of, the future.  And we view and interpret the past as well according to what we know of this future, according to resurrection.

One of the Latin words for faith is visio.    It means seeing from the largest and fullest perspective.  It means seeing the whole picture, including the final redemption and deliverance at the end.  This end is embedded in the present and in everything that is.  Resurrection... not as a replacement of creation but as its fulfillment and destiny.  LIke the way the true meaning of any story is found at the end, in the way it resolves.

In any relationship we may focus on the negative and destructive aspects, the fearful elements, the past.  Or we may change our focus so that what comes into view most clearly is this future redemption.  Fulfilled time means seeing all of time as a whole.  Not in overly explicit detail.  Not in trying to predict events and profit from this knowledge.  We remain human and knowledge of such detail remains unknown and unknowable to us.  Jesus does not give us information like who will win the World Series in 2012.  

But his announcement of time's fulfillment means that we know the basic and inexorable trajectory of time and that is it always resurrection.  And resurrection is encoded within all that is.  It is the "dna" of reality.  It is that towards which reality is moving as surely as the caterpillar towards the butterfly or the acorn towards the oak tree.

The future, Jesus says, is settled.  Our task now is to see and live according to this future we know.   The key is to see from the perspective of the future and lift up the ways this future is hinted at know, negating the negativity.  Instead of dwelling crippled by the past, we need to live by enacting in our own lives what we know of the future: resurrection.

This is not just endurance in the sense of a passive waiting.  It is an active anticipation.  An active participation in what is, even if it is not yet visible.

Faith is trusting in this future and living towards it by reshaping our actions according to it.