Language has a unique way of expressing two different tenses simultaneously. It’s called a “future present” tense. We use expressions such as “I am going to the store” or “We are having hamburgers for dinner” to denote a future action, yet the verb tense is in the present.
Likewise, this concept of a future present can carry ethical implications. For instance, what kind of demeanor would you have if you knew that next week you will become a millionaire? Surely there would be some immediate impact on your outlook! Or, how would your life be different in the present if you were given only a few months to live? Would there be any change to your daily routines? Of course there would. Maintaining a future focus can have a huge impact on your present experience. In fact, as I write this I’m anticipating getting home from work this evening and spending quality time with my dear wife and enjoying her presence; that thought is making me rather anxious at present!
Biblical figures also understood the importance of maintaining a forward focus (see Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 3:12-14, for example). If our daily lives were governed more by the anxious expectation of Jesus’ appearance, there would be far less therapy administered and far more hope experienced “as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). The best orientation for believers is looking up and leaning forward.
Consider committing to memory and/or meditating on just a few passages that speak to this future present reality.
1 John 3:2-3
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him [future/forward focus] purify themselves [present/immediate impact], just as he is pure.
2 Peter 3:11-12
Since everything will be destroyed in this way [future/forward focus], what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives [present/immediate impact] as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him [future/forward focus] endured the cross [present/immediate impact], scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.