Everything Matters. Far too often Christians realize a problem: their faith is disconnected from their everyday lives. They feel frustration over having a passionate “personal faith” but often experience a lack of carryover into their daily realities. Far too often Christians view little in this life as important to faith. This perspective often results in Christians who struggle to see meaning or significance in their daily lives, lack concern for societal issues, and who may fall for the worst of harmful political manipulations. I contend these issues are rooted in an incorrect, escapist view of the Gospel.
We must see the full picture of the Gospel and understand that God has called us to an all-encompassing ministry of reconciliation.God is in the business of renewing all things. From people to the entirety of the universe, everything is God’s and He cares about His creation. You may ask, What is the point? Aren’t we just going away to Heaven when we die? Isn’t the point to save souls and escape this place? Why should we care about any of this earthly stuff? Isn’t it all just going to pass away? Isn’t there a Bible verse that talks about the Earth being destroyed by fire? Shouldn’t we just focus on being in church and saving people? Here is where we have to see the bigger picture of the biblical narrative to understand that these objections are not, in essence, incorrect, but are incomplete. This understanding matters significantly to our theology and to how we follow Jesus.
God has called us to an all-encompassing ministry of reconciliation.
I want to recommend John Mark Comer’s masterpiece book Garden City. Beginning on page 237, Comer walks us through 2 Peter 3:10. It is often misread and mistranslated as a passage about God destroying the Earth with fire and laying it bare, right after Jesus takes us all away to “a galaxy far far away.” Comer explains this misreading is due to a misinterpretation of the verse’s original language and a failure to see the context. In the paragraph before, Peter uses the same language to recall how God used the flood in Genesis to cleanse the world. It was not total destruction but rather a healing; this is what the future looks like. We do not leave this place, but Heaven comes down and brings perfect restoration. The Gospel is about God’s Kingdom redeeming and reconciling people and all of Creation. God will restore the world to an Eden-like state. The effects of sin and death will be wiped away and the Earth and life will be as it was meant to be, transformed into a Garden City of civilization, not just a Garden of Eden. I like to compare this future event to a mechanic restoring a classic car. New parts are added and original elements are repaired to be good as new. Everything is perfect once again.
This has massive implications for our faith here and now. Our hope is resurrection for our bodies and this world. This is complex theology for sure, but there seems to be the possibility of real overlap between this life and the next. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that no action will be in vain, letting us know that this life matters. What happens and what we do now has implications for the next life. The afterlife will not consist of floating on clouds, playing harps, and being bored while singing songs forever with no end. The renewed creation will be the best of this life redeemed – building, playing, growing and eating food, creating, enjoying and caring for each other, and more. And all of this will take place with our God who will be with us, known fully. We can wonder, “Will created things from this time, like buildings and computers and my family photo album and the Eiffel Tower, also exist then?” Maybe or maybe not, but we will assuredly have an eternal home where we will create and steward such culture and resources alongside our Creator. Our good work will have eternal rewards and dividends.
What happens and what we do now has implications for the next life.
We have every reason to care about every aspect of life. We are meant to embody a God-saturated existence. God desires for us to both appreciate everything in life as a gift, and also to redeem and reconcile the pains and issues of this life. The call to love our neighbor is not simply a means to an end of personal conversion, but the cares of our neighbor (such as issues of poverty, racism, the environment, education, healthcare, justice) matter in their own right. God’s renewing reign is breaking in and will one day be complete. We are blessed to witness to and participate in this all-encompassing renewal work. In Revelation 21:5, Jesus exclaims in John’s vision that he is “making all things new.” We have every reason to live with an integrated life and faith and to see theology as truly an everyday theology.
This post includes an excerpt from Anthony’s new book Integrated: Vibrantly Experiencing and Following Jesus in all of Life. It is available from Amazon.