The Bible and Netflix
12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this
If you watch a weekly series TV show then after one episode, no matter what cliff they left you hanging on, you have to wait a week to get the next bit. The trouble with watching a series on Netflix is that you can decide to stay up later and watch the next episode. Only, the trouble is that Aaron Sorkin, the genius behind Studio 60 is a genius on all kinds of levels, one of which is that he knows very well how to make a cliff hanger that keeps you in suspense, needing the next episode. The trouble is, the next episode will leave you as needy as this one; it must be something like what addicts experience.
And it must be like what readers of the Bible experience. “why do you wonder…?” it’s because the story is never finished. It’s always a cliff hanger. It’s always about the almost fulfilled but partly yet-to-be fulfilled promise. It’s always about “wait for the next thing to happen” which is what most of the story implies.
And that is exactly where I live: somewhere between the “already” of the Kingdom of God and the “not yet” of its fulfillment. Somewhere between the resurrection of the firstfruits and the final harvest. Somewhere between “as it is in heaven” and “on earth”.
A while back, David J. A. Clines wrote a small but seminal book called “The Theme of the Pentateuch“. He argued in the book that the theme was the partial fulfillment and partial un-fulfillment of the Promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12. The promise started out personal “I will bless you” and expanded to national “and make you a great nation” and practical “this land I will give to you” and then, finally, perpetual, “I will make you a light to the nations and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” How can that be anything but open-ended and perpetually un-fulfilled?
But anyway, that’s what we get with Jesus too – who inaugurated the Kingdom of God but who made it clear that there was a future fulfillment yet to come which was even greater than the kingdom’s present, provisional state.
This is where I live: between the “already” and the “not yet.” I want to be what I am only partly and not fully: redeemed. I want to live in the Spirit completely, not just intermittently, but find myself inconsistent and intermittent. I want to believe 100% but find myself praying, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief.” (MARK 9:24).
I want to pray “thy will be done” but I’m not at all certain what that will entails. I keep having to wait for the next episode. And that one will be a cliff-hanger too; I’m sure.