The more time I spend in scripture, the more I come back to this theme: that God plans to redeem and purify the world itself. There’s this common understanding that we’re headed somewhere else after we die. This understanding is rooted on two dangerous preconceptions.
The first is that the Earth itself is irredeemable. I don’t want to live in denial of sin, of what we have done. But it’s a lot like our humanity itself. Though we do have a sin-nature, this came after the fact of our glorious creation, where we were made in the image of God. The whole point is to get back to our most basic nature.
And so it is with the Earth itself: once it was so perfect. The idea that God is restoring, rather than re-creating, speaks to this fact.
The second dangerous is idea is that have nothing to do with this reclamation and redemption. If our eternal home were somewhere impossibly distant for us, we couldn’t possibly do anything to bring this about. And it’s certainly true that left to our own devices, and under our own power, we still can’t do anything. But Jesus is working among us to create the Kingdom of God, right here.
While reading through Hebrews, recently, I came across this metaphor I never paid much attention to. The idea is that in this life, the earth and heavens will shake. They will shake as a result of our interactions and disobedience to God.
But the promise is, in the next life, the heavens and earth won’t shake. The whole point of this life is that whatever can not be shaken will remain into the next life.
What an incredibly human and subtle demonstration!
Have you ever been working on something and wondered if it was going to hold? Perhaps to test it, you’ve shaken or tugged on it. When you were done, after subjecting it to that pressure, you were confident that it would make it through.
It’s like tugging on a luggage strap to make sure that it would hold. It’s like putting half your weight on an iced-over lake to see if it’ll support your weight. It’s like a factory simulating the pressures on material before putting them in a car or on a bridge. Perhaps, most of all, It’s like when you have a heaping bowl of something hot and you shake it gentle back and forth, to make sure that it won’t all fall out over the edges as you walk over to the table.