Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jesus and climate change XIII

The renewal of all things
The renewed creation will be the full realisation and perfection of the present order, as well as its transformation into something even more wonderful. The writers of the Bible struggle to describe it, in language limited by present experience. Nonetheless, they paint a picture of a place where we will be completely at home, with recognisable physical bodies, where we will know one another, will love and be loved, where we will be at rest and yet will have fruitful things to do in serving God, where life will abound without the threat of extinction and decay. We sometimes get a fleeting taste of this now, but then it will be the steady settled reality.

Many people have a mistaken idea of disembodied spirits going to heaven at death. This is not the hope presented in the Bible and is a sub-Christian idea. The Christian hope is actually for heaven to come to earth, that is, for the reality of God’s gracious and gentle rule to become as established and evident on earth as it is in heaven. This is not going to heaven when you die. This is heaven coming to earth at some point in God’s glorious future.

And nor is this a return to a garden paradise like the one we read about in the opening chapters of the Bible. The Bible’s final picture of our ultimate destiny is not a garden, but a garden city. The city is a place of creativity and technology, yet also of human community and relational intensity. The human task of ordering, blessing and caring for the earth finds its consummation in a flourishing human community in which all living things flourish. In the images offered us in Revelation, we are told of this harmonious city that "the glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it" (Revelation 21.26). This seems to imply that nothing that is good will be entirely lost, that God will honour what is honourable in human creativity and endeavour. Part of humanity's destiny (and so task) is to enrich the good things in the world. This is not, on the one hand, to leave them untouched as though our mere presence pollutes, yet on the other, nor is it to dismiss created things as irrelevant, distracting or corrupting.

And so the Christian hope that God will renovate the created order is not a license to trash the world in the meantime. In fact, the opposite is true: because God will redeem his entire groaning creation, how we treat it now ought to reflect its importance. Because the earth will one day be filled with God’s glory (Numbers 14.21, Habakkuk 2.14, Psalm 72.19), we ought to glorify him today in how we care for it.
Twelve points to the first person to guess the Sydney building in the picture.
Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; IX(b); X; XI; XII; XIII; XIV; XV.

16 comments:

Duncan Andrews said...

Thanks Byron - this series has really helped me rethink how i relate to God's world. Brilliant!

Just a thought - Is it possible to have a series page with links to each of the posts (rather than just a 'series' link to the first post)? I have no idea, so that may be harder than it sounds, but I'd find it helpful to easily access whole series at a glance.

byron smith said...

Thanks Duncan, though I must say you're easily convinced, since I have another two or three posts to go! As for your suggestion, it is very simple and I have done it in the past for other series (e.g. here and here and here and here). I'll get round to it when I get to the end. Meanwhile, I also always try to have links down the bottom of each post to each other post of the series via Roman numerals.

Duncan Andrews said...

aha! Thanks. I thought i saw such things in the past. Suspected you might have some more coming - looking forward to them.

mark said...

Byron, what a great post - thanks very much! (hope you don't mind if I link my blog to it!).

I feel very strongly about the implications of this physical renewed creation for now, and believe that we could do with more thought about it in our area of the world!

Thanks,
Mark

byron smith said...

Mark - so do I, and it is a theme of many of my posts. I've even written a whole series about it as well as sundry other posts. Thanks for the link.

BTW - have we met?

mark said...

yes we have met - at your church on Sunday night! I meant to bring up the blogging but had to head home as i was coming down with something (which has had me in bed for the last two days)... It was lovely to meet you though, and I very much enjoyed the service.

thanks for your links. I wrote something a while ago about this very issue and will be posting bits and pieces up on my blog soon too.

thanks for your fellowship both off and online!

mark

byron smith said...

Ah, well I hope you're feeling better. Nice to meet you - twice!

James said...

No one has answered the quiz - so I'll have a couple of guesses...

1. Deutsche Bank Tower?
2. Lend Lease building in Hickson Road? (environmentally friendly one)
3. Computing building at USYD?
4. GPO?

byron smith said...

James - thanks for having a go. The usual rule is one guess per person per day, though as you say, no one has had a go at this one yet and it's been a while. Unfortunately, you haven't got it yet. A tricky one, though I'll give you a clue: it's a well-known building in the CBD.

byron smith said...

Oops, that should be one guess per post per person per day (i.e. you can make a single guess each day on as many different posts as you like).

James said...

Sorry - I'll refrain from another guess for four days then.

byron smith said...

James - no problem, I'll pretend you made your first three guesses earlier! The rule is mainly to stop someone coming in at the start and simply listing lots of guesses (esp in some cases where there are a limited number of possible answers, such as this one).

Happy guessing!

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Aurora Place

byron smith said...

Nope. Hint: it's an old building with a recent renovation.

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Customs house?

byron smith said...

Yes! Twelve points.