The story Paul tells is one in which there is a sure and certain line to be drawn between the cross of Christ and the eternal hope that lies ahead. “Hope” is Christological, and begun by participation “in him.” Paul’s own work intends to “present each person mature in Christ” (1:28).
The transformation that lies ahead is begun now. It begins with the cross, is reenacted in the community’s cruciform life together, plays out in acts of faithful obedience and love, and resolves with hope being realized in glory.
The trick, it seems, is to hold onto all these things simultaneously: to be of sure hope, possessing Christ, while not embracing a triumphalism that neglects the cross; to be confident that we are a reconciled people, while still recognizing our need for transformation; to see the cross of Christ saving us, but not to leave it behind as we seek out how to best love and serve the world in which we find ourselves. There is no hope without the cross, but there is no maturity or love without it, either.
Along with a book I just read and a series I’ve been teaching to high schoolers, that quote above has helped me realize why my basic way of evaluating worldviews is inadequate. More on that to come …