And the great simple truth is this, the truth that in the strange mix-up of life we easily lose sight of is this: Christ has not yet taken possession of all of His domain; a part of it still remains to be possessed. "We see not yet all things subjected to Him." [Note: Heb_2:8.] We are living in the "not-yet" interval between the crowning and the actual reigning. We are living on the "not-yet" possessed part of His domain.
And the question that comes hot and quick from our lips, even though with an attempt at subdued reverence, is this: "Why does He not take possession, and untangle the snarl, and right the wrongs, and bring in the true rational order of things?" And all the long waiting, the soreness of hearts over the part that touches one's own life most closely, the shortness of breath in the tensity of the struggle, underscore that word "why?"
And the answer to the impatient question reveals all afresh the greatness of the love of our Christ. His greatness is shown most in His patience. But patience is one of the things we men on this old earth don't know. It's one of the unknown quantities to us. It can be known only by knowing God. For patience is love at its best. Patience is God at His best. His is the patience that sees all, and feels all with the tender heart that broke once under the load, and yet waits, steadily waits, and then waits just a bit longer.
In this He runs the risk of being misunderstood. Men in their stupidity constantly mistake strong patience for weakness or indifference or lack of a gripping purpose. And God is misunderstood in this, even by His trusting children. But, even so, the object to be gained is so great, and so near Christ's heart that He waits, strongly waits with a patience beyond our comprehension; waits just a bit longer, always just a bit longer.
There are two parts to the answer. Jesus the Christ is giving man the fullest opportunity. He never interferes with man's right of free choice. Man is free to do as he chooses. Every possible means is used to influence him to choose right, but the choice itself is always left to the man. The present is man's opportunity. The initiative of action on the earth is altogether in man's hand. All of God's power is at man's disposal; but man must reach out and take. This long stretched but waiting time is for man's sake, that he may have fullest opportunity. The longsuffering of God would woo men. [Note: 2Pe_3:8-9; Rom_2:4; Rom_9:22; Rev_2:21; 1Pe_3:20; 2Pe_3:15; Exo_34:6-7.]
When at length opportunity comes to its end it will be only because things have gotten into such desperate shape, into such an awful fix, that at length for man's sake Christ will step into the direct action of the earth once again. He will take the leadership of earth into His own hands, even while still leaving each man free in his individual choice. This is the first part of the answer. The waiting is that man may have fullest opportunity.
Then Christ has a great hunger for willing hearts. No words are strong enough to tell His longing for a free, glad, joyous surrender to His mastery. He could so easily end the present conflict, but He waits that men may bring to Him the allegiance of their lives, given of their own glad, gracious, voluntary accord. He was a volunteer Saviour. He longs for that love that is the bubbling out of a free, full heart.
The best love is only given freely without any compulsion of any sort, save only love's sweet compelling. He wants what He gives—the best. And so He waits, patiently waits just a bit longer. This is the second bit of the answer. The long delay spells out the hunger as well as the patience of God's heart. The divine Husbandman is pa tiently waiting, and sending warm sun and soft rains and fragrant dews while waiting. [Note: Jas_5:7.]