When I learned Sunday afternoon that the vaccine had landed at Louisville International Airport, I rejoiced. Please allow me to explain.
Whether or not you plan to take the COVID-19 vaccination, I think you will agree with me that we are immensely blessed to have it already making the rounds among our most vulnerable populations. You and I are privileged to have excellent healthcare available to us, in general, and this is another example of the abundance of God’s common grace. In a year marked by distress and disappointment, so many people worked tirelessly to make this vaccine happen. Surely we must praise the Lord for the gifts of wisdom and perseverance which we receive at the hands of scientists, researchers, doctors, and others who help make moments like this happen.
But there is another reality that confronts us even as news of this life-saving medical breakthrough spreads far and wide, and that is this: people are dying. In fact, they’re passing from this life to the next at an alarming rate. People are still dying. The monster virus that has nearly scared the world to death still bares his venomous fangs, even while the antidote has begun to be administered.
You and I live between two worlds. There is the world of the here and now, which we can see. And there is the world of eternity which we can grasp only by faith. Both worlds are real. And, in an amazing sense which characterizes the life of the Christian pilgrim this side of heaven, both worlds are as close to us as the air we breathe. We live between two worlds.
So we wait. Jesus has promised to come back for us, so that we may be with Him forever (John 14:1-3). Our citizenship in that new country is secure. In many ways, our hearts are already there, in the land of our heavenly treasures. But, at the same time, the electric bill is due. I have a burn on my finger from carelessly grabbing a pot on the stove. And, some people I love are standing on my last nerve. Can you relate? In my best moments, I can practically see the Celestial City. But, on my normal days, I fantasize about running certain bad drivers off the road.
This is life between Christ’s first and second comings. People are being rescued, but the human race is still fallen. The kingdom of God is advancing, while the powers of darkness still seduce. You and I are learning to love selflessly, though sometimes we step on each other, each of us struggling to be rightly recognized as the star pupil in Christ’s School of Humility. LOL.
So, at least for me, the celebrated vaccine of the hour is a powerful symbol of our Christian hope. It is a bright token of amazing grace, while a global pandemic rages on. Sin still scorches and scars the planet, but the gospel will have the last word. The old me still wants to snuff out the new me, but Christ in me has won, and He will win.
Yes, we wait. But we wait with eager hope. Because of Christmas, we know that heaven can touch earth, even when culture, politics, and the religious establishment are shrouded in chaos and despair. We can’t yet see Him with 20/20 vision, but the Light of the world has come!