Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 4 For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love 5 He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will… (Ephesians 1:3-5 Berean Study Bible)
The Temporal/Spiritual Continuum
In a sense, the “when” aspect of “occupying” is both temporal and eternal, at once here and in eternity. But note: this isn’t about some theory of predestination that we have no control over–because God gave us a free will. For thoughts on the power of free will, see here
But back to our dual citizenship, so to speak, at the same time both now and in eternity.
You might think of it like this. God, who knows “the end from the beginning,” knows when each of us will come upon that moment of decision in our life, in whatever context it occurs, when we say “Yes” to faith in God. And in the flesh, we begin a new life, born again in the spirit, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus.
As to our co-residency, temporal and eternal, one commentator explains regarding this verse excerpted from the link above, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16):
Eternal life means, “Life of the world to come.” John’s present tense, “have” indicates that those who trust in Jesus have begun to experience that life already, (in the present time). (IVP Bible Background Commentary)
Only our omniscient, omnipresent God knows when and how this occurs for each of us.
But as one preacher put it, if you’re worried about your salvation, that’s a sign you’re okay. Apathy and a life given over to evil are the danger zones.
For some people, salvation happens in childhood, perhaps in Sunday school when the teacher explains how to ask Jesus into one’s heart.
For others, it’s in the context of listening to a sermon on salvation in Jesus Christ, or reading about it. For example, here.
For still others it may be some quiet epiphany when the clear, unvarnished choice surfaces through the cacophony of prophets and preachers, philosophers and, well, false christs clamoring for our time, attention, and money.
For their are always greedy, opportunistic counterfeits showing up where there is a powerful reality.
Nevertheless, in response to an honest heartfelt search for Truth, Truth responds.
And thus the adventure begins, right here, right now, in the land of the clock shining throughout in the invisible eternity of light, led by The Light, Jesus, Who came into the world that we might be saved from the darkness…
The down side of living in time, however, is that sometimes what we want and need TAKES time! I discussed this a little in Part 1 in the context of God’s timing which, from outside of same, takes not only beginnings and middles into account but also ends. For He knows all of them and by way of prophecy alerts us.
But the good side is far more powerful.
For one thing, being birthed into time gives us the slow-motion arc of an earthly existence, ticking away second by minute by hour by year, which allows us time to both hear and respond to God’s invitation to salvation.
Which speaks of His great patience and compassion.
But most of all, it speaks of His great love…
Why am I veering off into such a metaphorical riff when we face real dangers in real time on a real landscape?
Because as believers, “now” can seem at once hopeless, fragile, lethal, and void of good, but we know there is another place in which we dwell. This is the place, even right now, where good at length always conquers evil. For a compelling explanation of this mystery, see here.
And we have a new kind of hope that transcends the temporal, peace that, like Jesus said, “the world cannot understand.” Peace that, through the Holy Spirit we receive at our “new birth”. Peace He sent us, as a parting gift. As He put it:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
And now to just one aspect of the fearful, temporal “now” that, in part, prompted this post on the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our occupation.
On the Ground and In the Heavens
So back on terra firma right now, today, and citing a very present danger, it appears that the Big Tech communication oligarchs (as some call them) are in a purging frenzy of conservative thought.
They are scrubbing, de-platforming, demonitizing, shutting up, shutting down, and shoving aside anyone who dares hold a differing political opinion.
(I imagine nano-scale “scrubber bots” scrambling here, there, and everywhere in their digital universe wiping clean any opposition–you know, kind of like “with a cloth”.)
You might say the oligarchs are cowering back in fear from the competition and taking their balls home, too…
Meanwhile, at the speed of a 5 G hydra but in a good way, for every platform snuffed out, alternative platforms are multiplying by the day. And that’s just in the temporal, digital world.
So, really, no worries.
As the ancient text says, “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
There have always been control freaks (like we used to say back when) who would rather people not open their minds and/or hearts, just listen to them.
But there is One in control Who ever frees by communicating in ways unknown in darkness, and Who is available to all who seek and find Him.
And His ways are higher than even the smartest, most insidious and devious self-proclaimed “masters of the universe,” down here. For God says to them as He says to us all:
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts… (Isaiah 59:9-13)
And if you track history, one way or another He. Always. Wins.
And the light of His ways is available to all who choose to receive it, by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. (Here is some information on how and why).
Indeed, if never before, the time is NOW to know how to navigate these fearful, unprecedented, warring times and to be connected to Truth, to listen, look, and pray.
For as Jesus also said,
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
And the most sought-after battle plans during any dual citizenship battle are those of the spirit. Here is an introductory list.
Here is a more detailed:
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Now there’s some time-tested battle strategies for the occupation, yours and mine as believers, and “whosoever (else) wills”.
The commander of the evil side of things, who also dwells in the invisible while bent on destruction in the visible, might be formidable, but ours, on the other hand, is not only omniscient and omnipresent but also omnipotent.
For some very practical and specific “boots on the ground” strategies beginning with prayer, here is a model I think of often these days. There are many others, however, in the same anthology that includes historical and narrative genres addressing both temporal and spiritual battles.
And it is good to remember that “temporal” means temporary, as in time, as in the short time we are living and breathing along the arc of our life in the flesh…which is, after all, as James in his letter reminded the early Church, but a mist, a vapor “that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Whilst God and His own live forever in light.