“From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.” (1 John 1:1-2, The Message).
N. T. Wright has a way of infusing new life into familiar passages. In his commentary in The Early Christian Letters for Everyone, he observes:
“But the secret at the heart of the early Christian movement was that the age to come had already been revealed. The future had burst into the present, even though the present time was not ready for it.”
John’s testimony was that the apostles had seen the future in a person—Jesus Christ. Christ had revealed in human form what God has prepared for humankind—the infinite Life of God As the master of time and space, God is not limited by our mortal perception or perspective. God has not only seen the future; God has prepared the future; God is part of the future as well as the past and present. The Son of God manifests that truth and is a harbinger of things to come.
The implications for us are disorienting to say the least. We are not only encouraged and informed by the past acts of God in the world but we are being pulled forward into a new age, one that has already broken through in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. We often talk about it as the Kingdom of God. We know that the Kingdom began with Christ and that the Kingdom is breaking into our world through the work of the Spirit among believers today, but we often fail to remember that the Kingdom in its fullness is already there for us. It is not dependent on us but has been provided by God.
We have seen the future in the transforming work of Christ and his Church. As Wright says, “Once the future has come into the present, the present is transformed for ever.”