Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The World As It Was Meant To Be

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:1-5

This world is not what it was meant to be. Certainly our world is nothing more or less than what God has allowed it to be, because He is in control. But that is not what I am talking about. When I say that our world is not what it was meant to be, I mean that our world is not now what it was originally created to be. We know this instinctively. Wherever we go in this world we encounter pain. We have our hearts broken. We constantly try to improve ourselves- we try to get better grades, lose those five pounds, or stop cursing- only to watch ourselves fail. The powerful take advantage of the weak. Instinctively, we see these things happening and we look to the heavens and cry out "Why?" Thankfully Scripture gives us an answer to this question.

When we look at Scripture from the grand perspective, a story emerges. That story in a nutshell is this: God created a perfect creation  in the midst of which He placed man and woman that they might rule over it. But mankind chose to turn our back on God. We rejected His authority and disobeyed His commands. This was sin. Sin is like a cancer; it brings death and pain as it spreads and contaminates everything it touches. And so man's sin didn't just affect him but it affected all of creation, not only his descendants after him but the natural world as well. In Romans 8, Paul points to this truth by saying that that the creation itself groans and longs to be set free from its corruption (Romans 8:22-23). This sin separated mankind from God, and the whole of Scripture is the unfolding story of God's grand plan to restore right relationship between Himself, mankind, and His creation. God first pursues this plan through the nation of Israel then, over time, the Messiah comes through that nation. It is in Him ultimately that the hopes of all mankind for restored relationship rest. Now through this Messiah God is calling a new people out of the world, the church. This people is tasked with proclaiming the good news of restored relationship and forgiveness of sins to all who will receive it.

But this is not the whole story. Often this is all we tell, but it is not the whole story. As important as all of this is, it leaves God's great plan of restoration unfinished. For the culmination of God's plan is found in the new heavens and the new earth. You see God isn't merely forgiving a people, He is removing the cancer of sin from their lives. The Bible teaches that Christians will experience a resurrection to new life, a life like Christ now lives after His resurrection. This resurrection will remove the taint of sin from us and we will dwell with God face to face once again. But this is still not all! Remember, it wasn't just man that was tainted by sin, it was the whole world too. Thus, the Bible tells us that this world will be destroyed by fire and that there will be a new heavens and a new earth. Scholars disagree over whether this fire will properly destroy the earth so that a completely new one is created or whether Scripture is speaking of a purification by fire so that this earth is purified and made new. Either way the point seems clear, one day this world and all the Christians in it will no longer cry out "Why?" One day this world and all believers will be what we were always intended to be. There will be no more tears, no more mourning. There will be no disabilities, no injustices, and no diseases. This world and those who are still in it will be what God always intended us to be...what we were created to be.

So as you go through your everyday life and you encounter something that makes you want to shake your fist at God and ask "Why?" Choose instead to use that situation or difficult person or painful experience to remind yourself to look forward to the day when all of that will be wiped away. Every "why" in this world is a reason and an opportunity to live in expectant hope for the day when the world will no longer be this way, when our bodies will no longer be this way, when sin will no longer be present. Remind yourself that God has a plan, and as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow that plan will work its way out.

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