Let’s imagine flipping through our bibles from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Here’s a summary of the story that emerges:
C. Jesus Christ
A’. New Creation
Reflexive & Progressive
This overview introduces us to two aspects of the flow of the biblical narrative. First, God’s story is reflexive. The first half of the story is mirrored by the second. New Creation is an echo and culmination of Creation. The Church echoes and culminates God’s purposes in and through Israel. And everything hinges on Jesus.
The reflexive aspect of God’s story has to do with its REDEMPTIVE nature. Following the beauty and wonder of Creation, there’s a disastrous mess: rebellion, tragedy, death, evil. But amidst the chaos and destruction, the story presses ahead. A mission gets underway. A divine mission. A redemptive mission. God’s purposes are not abandoned. They will be restored.
Naturally, the story reaches its apex in Jesus Christ – THE REDEEMER. But Jesus wasn’t trying to recreate Genesis 1-2. God’s plan was moving forward. And this brings us to the second aspect of the flow – God’s story is progressive. It’s going somewhere. It’s pressing ahead. In Jesus, the downward spiral ended. Death was defeated. Renewal began in Jesus’ resurrection, and its fullness is now anticipated by the rest of creation. (This is the story Paul is telling in Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15.)
In other words, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s redemptive story is now progressing toward its culmination in the New Creation.
Scope and Trajectory
Now let’s rearrange our summary and draw out two more aspects of the flow of God’s story: scope & trajectory.
Creation. Our story begins with a boundless scope. It encompasses all of creation. All humanity is created and called according to God’s purposes. Creation is designed to roll forward in eternal rhythms free from decay and death.
In the fall, the eternal rhythms of Creation were interrupted and cut short by death. The wholeness of Creation was severed, and a veil came to exist between the heavenly and earthly realms. Humanity forfeited its God-given identity and purpose in favor of selfishness & rebellion. The trajectory of God’s story became defined by rebellion, destruction, and ruin.
Israel. After the fall, the redemptive mission of God quickly got underway with the calling of Abraham (Genesis 12). With Abraham’s calling, the scope of God’s story narrowed to the land, the people, and the history of Abraham’s descendants – Israel.
Unfortunately, instead of living into God’s redemptive purposes, the nation of Israel fell to the same fate as humanity in Creation – rebellion and selfishness. The narrowing, downward spiral of failure, destruction, and ruin continued.
Jesus Christ. Finally, the story collapsed from all of Creation onto one life, one moment, one place. The power of sin, evil, and destruction culminated at the cross when Jesus was crucified. Perfect love and goodness was taken to the grave. The trajectory of rebellion and evil ran its course.
But just as all seemed to be lost, the unthinkable happened! The story turned. The Jesus was resurrected! New Creation dawned!
And now, from one man, an empty grave, and the first breath of resurrection life, God’s story is exploding back out toward the renewal of all things.
Church. This expanding scope and redemptive trajectory now define God’s story and contextualize God’s people living between Jesus and the New Creation. While much of humanity continues to live in opposition to God’s purposes, the Church is taking its place as followers of Jesus Christ here & now: announcing the good news that God’s story is back on track through Jesus Christ and living beyond ourselves as cooperative participants in God’s ongoing redemptive mission.
New Creation. Ultimately, all creation will be renewed under the reign of Jesus Christ and his people. Through God’s righteous judgment, all people will assume their rightful places before Jesus & within God’s kingdom. Jesus’ victory over death & destruction will be shared by all his people as they step fully into eternal life in the New Creation.
(Excerpt from Reimagining Discipleship)