I am constantly telling my children to look both ways before they cross the street. It is necessary, especially with my boys, to remind them often that they have to look in both directions. I need the same advice and I need it just as often. John Stott, in his commentary of the book of Titus says, “the best way to live now, in this present age, is to learn to do spiritually what is impossible physically, namely to look in opposite directions at the same time.” What does he mean by this? And how would that help us live in this present time?
In the Bible there is a letter from the Apostle Paul to a young Pastor that he mentored named Titus. In this letter Paul says the above quote. And this is where he calls Titus and the young church that Titus pastors to "look both ways." He tells them to remember when Jesus came at his first coming with grace in order to redeem them from their sin. To remember that God did something decisively in human history by entering the world in the person of his Son, taking on human nature and then dying on a cross in the place of sinners to satisfy the demands of justice in their place.
And he tells them to look forward to the day when Jesus returns in glory and makes all things new. At Jesus' first coming, he came in humility and weakness. At his second coming, he comes in glory and power. And this coming is the hope of the Christian. It is the hope that though things are hard now as we live in a broken world, all who are trusting in Jesus have the hope to be with him when he comes in glory.
Now, how does looking to these two comings help us live now? Well, first, it helps us to live a godly life. Paul says that the thing that will train us to live rightly is not simple instruction in what right living looks like, that is not enough. We lack the power to live rightly. So, we need to know that if you trust in Jesus, he has forgiven us completely not because we were able to live rightly, but because of his grace. Grace means unmerited favor. That means we didn't earn it. If we are to live rightly, we have to know that our right living doesn't earn us God's love. And we also need to know that our life as it is right now is not the end goal. When Jesus returns and establishes his Kingdom fully, our hope will be finally realized. This helps us to pursue God and his ways now because we know that at the end of the day its not our best life now but our best life later.
Secondly, this gives us the hope we need to live today. Life in a broken world is hard. And when it gets hard we need to be reminded to look both ways. To look back when Jesus came, entered our broken world and took it on himself on the cross. Paying for our sins and crushing our biggest enemies: sin, satan, and death itself. And we need to look forward to the day when Jesus will come back and make all things new. This is the only way we can maintain hope in a broken world.
So, friend, if you are a Christian, if you are trusting in Jesus and him alone for salvation, look both ways. And if you are not a Christian, if you are not sure about Jesus and what he means for your life and you have questions about all of this, please contact me. I would love to sit down with you and hear your story and get to know you and answer any questions you may have about how a relationship with God through Jesus can effect your life.