End of Creation Story

It seems to me that many among Christians believe that creation has little to do with God’s ultimate purposes. The ultimate purpose I was taught growing up was for creation to perish and Christians to be caught up in heaven to live forever. Generally, most folks had no idea what we would actually do there (ideas ranged from a big revival worship service to folks sitting on clouds plucking harps). While I wasn’t a pre-millennialist—this kind of thought process goes hand in hand with the pre-millennial concepts of rapture and tribulation.

It also goes hand in hand with abuse of creation. Since it’s all going to be burned up and destroyed then there’s really little reason to take care of it.

But reading the Bible carefully one discovers that humanity was never meant to be separated from creation. Humans are part of creation. Creation is pronounced “good” and together with humanity it is pronounced “very good.”

According to Romans 5-8 the overarching concern of God is to rescue his creation. It was created out of chaos (formless and void) and the fall represents that chaos trying to break in. But God’s plan was “to bring fruitful order to the world through his image-bearing creatures”.[1] Our failure led to death and deterioration—not only for us but for all creation.

God’s plan for us is not an individualistic “I’m going to take you to heaven” sort of thing.[2] God’s plan is that we will be given our proper place and this will result in creation itself being restored and rescued (Romans 8:20-21). N. T. Wright correctly points out Paul does not say  “life will rule in us through Jesus” but that we will “rule in life” (Romans 5:17): humanity will be restored as rulers who will exercise wise stewardship over creation.[3]

Wright describes a subplot to the story that goes something like this: we are made for relationship with God—our rebellion separated us from that relationship, and God’s action through Jesus restores us to a right relationship with him. However, that is only part of the larger story. And even this subplot fits into the larger whole. Jesus’ action on the cross and through the resurrection is about much more than what we normally assume. The resurrection itself is part of God’s rescue of creation (and us along with it). It is through the resurrection of Jesus (and ultimately our final resurrection) that the creation itself is set free from its slavery to death and decay. Justice is restored, the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven and God dwells with his people (not vice versa—Revelation 21:1-5).

[1] N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, p 488.

[2] Nor is it “I’m going to prosper you and make your life wonderful”. Sorry folks the quote from Jeremiah 29:11 has nothing to do with us–that’s return from Babylonian exile.

[3] Wright.

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About Darryl Willis

Darryl has been working for non-profits for over 36 years. His current work takes him to Ukraine several times a year. He has fallen in love with the country and the people. Darryl writes poetry and his work has appeared in several online and print journals.
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