Just as God created everything out of nothing and spoke everything into existence so God will take everything that exists and redeem it all. Every atom will be transformed by the same power that raised Christ from the dead. We will be transformed, but will still be embodied. In the beginning God created everything as distinct from Him. He had communion with all things, and all things reflected Him but it was not incorruptible. In the end all things will be reconciled to God and God will bring the whole of Creation, Humanity and every creature and atom into Trinitarian Fellowship. Instead of God being apart from the created order… through Christ, God will bring all of who He is together with all that is to make one family out of the two. Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be reconciled with all that is into an eternal and incorruptible life. Heaven and earth will be reoriented in perfect congruency. Angels and cherubim and seraphim and all the host of heaven will be with us and we will see as we are seen in creation. We will rule and reign with Christ, embodied and human forever as co-heirs in this new family. The glory of the nations will be brought into New Creation too. God will honour His creation by redeeming it and He will honour the best of our culture by including it, but nothing evil, corruptible or sinful will enter. Our work will be tested and only what is of God will remain. Everything not of God we will be happy to be rid of. We will live in full communion with Christ and be sons and daughters as well as the bride of the lamb.
As human beings created in the image of God, we have seen the highest pinnacle of creation and descended to the depths of depravity. The gamut of our existence has taken us to great heights and also to the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus had to come to travel this journey with us. Father God had to watch His imagebearers in the Old Covenant as they attempted to pursue His leading out of the wilderness and into the Promised land in Exodus, just as they came out of Egypt. Now, the Holy Spirit has come to give us one Spirit that will fill every believer to unify us into the body of Christ corporately and communally. God has been working within us, revealing Himself to us and transforming us from despising ourselves to realising that He loves us beyond belief. He reframes our humanity from an Achilles’ heel into our greatest asset. We are human and He became human to redefine what it means to be human. He then reconciled Himself as fully human to God, and in doing so, checkmated evil into a corner, conquering death, the grave and took the final sting away. Now, whether we live or die, we are with God and we don’t need to deny our humanity to be acceptable to Him, He accepts our humanity and longs for us to follow Him in accepting it back from exile. It is the key to the whole story of God, which is the story of humanity. God joining with us to reconcile all things to Himself.
This final reconciliation is really the work of God. We often think that we are working for God, but He is actually working for us. He is doing much more in saving, sanctifying and reconciling us than we are privy to. He always has been working in our midst, but often our greatest enemy in our business. He has called us not to work for Him as much as to enter His rest. He has made a place where we join with Jesus to rule and reign with Him now and in the future where any service we offer to God is done out of a place of resting in the finished work of God. (Matthew 11:30) Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” To be reconciled is to come to rest. To know that we have been heard even before the words are uttered, to know that we belong and that we have a place, that our needs are met, that our deepest concerns that used to keep us up at night have been totally met. A deep rest descends and it does not mean that we cease to work or act, but simply that we no longer need to jostle for position, weigh in on our point or convince others that we are right, as all things will be made right. We no longer need to find our voice, or demand attention. We can rest because Justice has been met.
This final picture of all things is massively important. God was not content to save our souls or just save our spirits for heaven, sucking them up in a rapture narrative to keep them for Himself in heaven. That is more like a parasite than the God of the Universe. No, God has been in it for all of it. He will not lose everything in the end and equally, neither will we. Heaven will be as diverse as Creation was here and more so. We may be able to interact with all creatures extinct or not, all imagebearers who called on God’s name in the Old and New Testament. Indeed the books of our history will be written there, our names will be in the Lamb’s book of life. There will be accounts of every nation and people group on earth and how God was working as Trinity to redeem them all. In every generation, God has been at work with every imagebearer using every means He can to reveal Himself to them. We are told that all the books in the world could not account for all the works that Jesus did as an imagebearer, but there will likely be libraries filled with books of the narrative for each nation and we will meet the people who in obedience to God acted in their age and time to reveal God to the nations of the world. It will be a vivid picture of each person who ran the race and finished well. What stories we will tell there! We will remember the price and the cost but none of the pain and suffering will last. Perhaps like Jesus we will have scar tissue of our own stories as conquerors inheriting the land that we have long fought for.
Our world and our humanity is divided and conflicted. We have hated, abused, killed and maimed one another, we have stolen land, property and envied one another since the fall. Our relationships are broken, our lands are eroded and our planet has been abused. The creatures flee from us and we are at war with ourselves and with those we love. To think of loving our enemies is too difficult, we struggle with our neighbours. We have huge disagreements over history, over holy sites, over the facts of our past and we feel shame. We blame one another for our predicament and see no way of healing the rifts caused by colonialism, by genocide, by death. Oh the suffering that has entered our world that is a result of our joining with the evil one and agreeing to retaliate with violence and seek to crush the other in our midst. How is God going to rectify all this and not do away with us in the process? Is that even possible. The Biblical narrative outlines this in no uncertain terms. God will reconcile all things. Even the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and He will do it through the eternal work of a Palestinian/Jew – Jesus.
Every effort we make here has an element of pain and cost to it. It takes energy, contemplation, risk and challenge to do the most simple of tasks. We are battling distraction, conflict, misunderstanding, budget restraints, management issues or personnel shortages. Everywhere we turn there is something amiss, a lack of resources, a lack of skill or a lack of knowledge. In some countries we battle corruption and bureaucracy at every turn. It’s no wonder we lose our joy in the journey. However, we do know that God will make our work a joy and in pouring our lives out for one another, we actually find ourselves within our serving. It takes brave men and women of God to image God to the world in every aspect of their lives. To be learning to rule and reign with Him here is a preparation, very like purgatory where we get to discover God in the midst of the storm, and though we are often afraid, we trust the He will restore our joy, restore a sense of purpose and empower us to be His witnesses at home, at work, in our families and communities and nations. To show people a new way to be human, just as Jesus has shown that to us so vividly.
(Colossians 3:1-3) “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” We are to live embodied, fully human lives. Aware of our humanity… Our vulnerability, our brokenness and finiteness. We don’t have to have it all together, but we do need to be honest with one another and with God. Transparent and integrated as only God can enable us to be. We know we will fail and may not image God as well as we hope, but we are being transformed as long as we are following Christ into the presence of God and living with the reality of both our humanity and our place of belonging carved into a human shape of the true imagebearer who now sits at the right hand of God, the Father. Jesus Christ has made a way for our lives to be included in His life. You will always be you, with your history, your vocation and your gifts and personality and that is exactly how God loves you into His arms. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4) “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”