But, really? So says Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 2).
Now, be clear. In the same chapter he says that Jesus is "risen from the dead." That resurrection has already happened. Our champion has his victory! But there is another resurrection to come.
The Christian life is union with Christ.
It is "if we have died with him, we will also live with him."
Repeated in parallel: "if we endure, we will also reign with him."
Death and resurrection. The cross and the crown.
But where are we today?
Some want to say we're in resurrection and reigning now. I'd like that.
And in some senses we are. It's absolutely certain. As sure as Jesus' resurrection. Where he has gone we will go too. As for the King so for his people! We are seated in the heavenly realms as Paul says elsewhere.
But, here and now? Death or resurrection? The cross or the crown? The former in both cases. We might taste both at times, but predominantly now is on one side of this. Paul gets it as he tells the story (in 2 Timothy 4, based as GK Beale argues on Psalm 22's death and resurrection) of David and Jesus and himself and Timothy... there is a crown, after you die.
Understandably, with great longing and in anticipation of what's to come we can be tempted to get ahead of ourselves. But, if we have an over-realised discipleship (ORD), claiming for today what is largely ahead of us, we invite gangrene and ruin ourselves.
- ORD can't handle Sin. We'll imagine that sin isn't a problem in life. We'll presume too much victory over our sin. And so sin will slip under the radar. We'll not take care to keep from the seduction of Dame Folly and to pursue the song of Lady Wisdom with due care. If you think there's only life and reigning then you'll forget to put sin to death, forget to have the Scriptures correct and rebuke your heart to lead you deeper into the love of Christ.
- ORD can't handle Suffering. We'll imagine that the Christian life is to be triumphant and free of pain and tears. And one day it will be in the renewed creation. But as yet, this is not that day. If you think there's only life and reigning then you'll have no category for suffering, no grasps of the Psalmist's cry "we're dying all day long" (Psalm 44, cited in Romans 8) to make some sense of this fractured and fallen world.