Biblical faith means waiting with anticipation in the things promised but not yet seen. To have faith in Christ therefore means to anticipate the fullness of God’s kingdom on earth. This is what the Christian faith proclaims and it is what shapes our hope. Christian hope is consequently a belief that everything in heaven and on earth will one day be reconciled and made new, which means that the home of God will be among us, that he will dwell in our midst, that we will be his people, that death, mourning, crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. As Christ’s body was broken by the power of darkness, so this world must also perish in order to share in his resurrection. Thus Paul made clear that ‘Christ is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross’.
Christ emptied himself for the sake of the world on the cross and as his body, his church; we are called to walk as he walked. Waiting with anticipation in the things promised but not yet seen should therefore not be equated with a personal conviction; rather it is a call for a communal life in faithfulness to the will of God. Hence our faith will be made visible to the world through our love for one another and our works. This implies a willingness to be drawn into a life that moves towards reconciliation of all things by the power of God’s self-giving love, which ultimately was made known as Christ walked obediently towards his death.
The universal future of the risen Christ should therefore be the Christian communities ultimate concern. Elevating particular cultures to the level of ultimate concern is thus nothing but idolatry. Nationalism is consequently destructive for the purposes of God since the apocalyptic event of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ unveils a future of reconciliation between all things in heaven and on earth, including nations, cultures and so on. Hence Paul Tillich wrote
In true faith the ultimate concern is a concern about the truly ultimate; while in idolatrous faith preliminary, finite realities are elevated to the rank of ultimacy.
So far most self-professing Christians would agree but as soon as one replaces their nation with their particular Christian congregation, denomination or tradition, numerous people will (consciously or unconsciously) start to protest…