(For the introduction to this series, go here.)
It’s always amazing how in a two minute trailer, almost any movie, regardless of the true level of cinematic quality, can seem worth watching. This idea reminds me of an episode from one of my favorite television shows, Seinfeld. In one particular episode, the flawed “people’s person” George Constanza found himself dating a girl with no knowledge of his lost list of faults, flaws, disappointments, and setbacks. He proceeded to act like everything he’d accomplished in his life (a job with a steady and competitive salary, knowledge of New York City and a stable standard of living) had all miraculously come together within days. By doing this, he hoped to impress his new girlfriend with his sudden success and accomplishments. While telling his friend Jerry about this plan, he said, “You know, if you take everything I’ve done in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent!”
To me this is exactly what a movie preview attempts to do. The movie preview has two minutes to condense the best moments, the most action-packed fight scenes and the funniest one-liners into a compact one-two punch experience that will leave everyone anxious for its release. It is for this very reason that so many movies wind up failing at the box office. In many cases, the preview outdoes the feature film.
Speaking in terms of our earthly life and its relation to heaven, what we experience in this life is what the Bible calls a “foretaste.” Embodied in the life of Jesus Christ, but then regenerated in the lives of disciples, are experiences and foretastes of things unknown, yet promised. At the heart of each of our lives are experiences of purity and perfection that are only attained and experienced intermittently.
Paul writes about these experiences by comparing them to “fruit” when he writes in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
During our lives, God willing, we all will experience each of these at their purest form at least once. These moments tend to last only for a little while and then disappear, but we remember the experience forever. The moment that we were truly loved by someone, we never forget. The moment someone was truly faithful to us, we never forget. The same can be said about all nine “fruits.” These fruits are born out of the Spirit and the Spirit is born out of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In his being and identity, Jesus embodied all of these fruits. They are, in turn, recreated and reflected in the lives of those reborn of the Spirit.
The difference between the way that we experience this “foretaste” and the way that a movie preview attempts to impress a moviegoer, is that there is no secret that the movie preview is attempting to sell something that cannot entirely satisfy. If the movie is not as good as the preview, the audience leaves unsatisfied. However, even if the movie is as good as the preview promises, the movie is still simply a movie. In this case the audience, while completely entertained, leaves exchanging comments like, “Well, life’s not like the movies.” But the essence of the fruit of the Spirit as a foretaste to something unknown, something wonderful, and something promised, is the truth that the foretaste is for something that exists. That offers satisfaction, and ultimately delivers. This “thing” is heaven, and it is there that we not only can experience these fruits independent from one another, but also where we experience all fruits simultaneously in an ongoing coexistence with the “gardener” himself, God, who planted the fruits in the beginning.