Christians aren’t simply called to a static part of our culture, simply walking through life allowing the forces and influences to shape us as they will. We are called to be shaped by God through his Word—the Bible, the written Word, and Jesus Christ, the living Word. And as we are formed more and more into people who love God and love what he loves, we make an impact on the world around us that we are part of. Through the great mystery of God’s plan, we are invited into the work he is doing in his world.
The new heavens and new earth, and the new Jerusalem that descends to be God’s dwelling place, are the old creation, restored by God to the way it is supposed to be. And this idea isn’t just in one chapter of one book. God’s plan, as evidenced throughout the entire Bible, is not to destroy his creation and start over, but to lovingly, painstakingly restore his creation back to the way he originally intended it. As Revelation 21:5 says, God is “making all things new,” not making all new things!
There’s nothing we could do—so God got to work himself. He didn’t just reach down from his throne in heaven and toss a rope for us to climb up. He came to us himself, becoming one of us. This is who Jesus is: God-become-human, writing himself into our story after we wrote him out. As Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14).
Sin isn’t simply a theological construct; it isn’t just an idea. Those first humans thought this choice would lead them into freedom. Instead, it destroyed freedom. We have thought the same twisted thought, and we, too, are deeply wrong. There is no freedom in sin. There is only death.
In the beginning, the world was good.
If the creation story in the book of Genesis is familiar to you, that may not seem like a profound statement. But read it again: in the beginning, the world was good.