Rethinking Christianity

For the concentrated and undivided expectation of the creation is assiduously and patiently awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.

Rom 8:19

Paul takes us on a journey from Romans 5-8 that lays out the plan of God with us. Explaining Adam vs. Christ, law vs. Spirit, and the coming hope.

It is the last part that interests me the most today. What is this coming hope?

Paul tells us that the sorrow of our time does not compare to the glory of the future. He also tells us that we are not the only ones looking forward to a grand future, but that all of creation looks for it with us. But other than us, they know where to look for it: they look at us, thinking: when will they finally get it?

The verse is telling us that they assiduously and patiently wait. Going to the Greek, it is more like with eager, anxious, and persistent expectation.

Why? Because creation is dying because of us.

So far so good. I have spoken about this on this blog before, as have many others in different places. But have we seen the significance of it?

First, and very easy to see:

Creation is not going to die and be done away with at any time. It is not this kind of hope they express: let it be over soon, I rather die than spend another minute in this state. It is the hope of restoration.

Secondly, it is not about the heavenly part of creation, the part in heavenly realms. It talks about the part of creation that has been under the curse, therefore this earth, this universe.

And I don’t think that creation longs for a 1000 year period of perfection, only to wither away and be replaced afterwards.

Why do I think that? Because Paul says that creation will be set free into the limitless freedom of the children of God. That freedom is eternal, otherwise limited.

When we accepted Christ, we became a new creation, but our body did not change. It was a revival of the spirit, a beginning change of the soul, and a future metamorphosis of the body. I was saved, am being save daily, and will be saved.

Paul sais that

We ourselves also are groaning within ourselves, assiduously and patiently waiting the full realization of our adult sonship at the time of the redemption of our body.

Rom 8:23b

If now all creation is not going to die and be replaced, but renewed and revived into their original and final destination, so will we as a part of creation. Not in heaven. Here.

What this shows me: there is more to a Christian life than what had been attained by the apostles and the first church. They were looking forward to it, and we still are. But if we all keep on looking forward to it, could it be that it will never come?

Now I start treading dangerous ground. Bare with me as I go through this thought experiment.

God made us in the first place to have relationship. He did not want another breed of creatures that believed because they saw, because hope that is seen is no hope. Therefore man in addition to the angels. He did not want string puppets to play with, therefore he gave us free will. He wanted coworkers, as Jesus put it. Partners after his image.

A partner, a coworker (as opposed to a worker) is not just acting on the commands of a boss, but building something in partnership.

I by no means want to tout God blessing our plans, our Ishmaels. That would be the other extreme. What I am talking about is growing up, using our God given creativity and talents, gifts and skills to come up with Godly ideas and partner with God in the execution.

Godly ideas not in the sense that they originated with God and through a trained ability to listen to the Spirit we were able to hear them and, again well trained in dying to our selves, we were ready to execute on them.

Godly ideas in the sense that we have learned to think like God, and within the framework of his plan and ways of thinking have used our own creativity to bring the Kingdom forward.

Little children are told. Thus they learn the basics of how we think and want them to behave. Teenagers test their ability to use their own creativity within this basic framework, and they need guidance and the occasional correction. But is it really the goal of a grownup to fit in? Are we created to behave?

If so, then there would be no need for a new covenant. The old covenant would be enough. Education would equate to make them fit, break their will, and have them submit to external laws.

The first part of the new covenant is the law becoming our desire. But in my humble opinion that does not end with being OK now to submit and in it give up my personality. On the contrary.

We are all wonderfully made. With purpose. With gifts, talents and abilities. We all are part of the body, joint to work together, each with his or her own duties and assignments, but also possibilities.

We all are to grow up into the fullness of God’s individual calling. What for?

To fulfil the hope of creation. To solve the problems of this world. And how is creation helped? By becoming a new creation. To create is to enact and execute creativity.

It is very interesting that creation is not waiting for the return of Jesus to be saved. They are waiting on us. Is the initiating moment for creation’s metamorphosis Jesus coming back, or is it that we finally become the full grown, mature sons of God?

Paul clearly tells us that it is the latter.

One could argue that these two events could be the same, or that the return of Christ triggers the revelation of the sons of God somewhat immediately and automatically. If that were true, why would Paul not concentrate on the trigger event?

The bible tells us that Jesus died for us before the foundation of the earth. It manifested in this earth some 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. And it became real to me the moment I gave my life to Jesus. That is, it happened for and to me right then, some thirty years ago in Winterthur, Switzerland.

I believe that the seven trumpets of Revelation sounded within the ending years of the old covenant, and they become real to each and every one the moment one realises their reality, hears their sound. And we will all be changed by the sound of the last trumpet. In that picture, that does not have to be just one fixed point of time in the future. It can be very individual: whenever I hear the sound of the seventh trumpet, I will be changed by it.

Maybe the story of Christianity is not on wait, waiting for Christ to come back, in the meantime doing what we know to do. Maybe we have to rewrite and rethink Christianity. I believe that we have a far greater job and responsibility to bring about the mature sons of God.

It is not about turning them into believers. That is first stage, child like. Jesus told us to make disciples. But not to camp there. A teenager trains his abilities to think and do on his own within the right framework not to stay there. Jesus wants us to both become and make sons. Grown up, mature sons that partner with their father.

Let’s rethink our interpretation of God’s word that way.

What do you think?

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Categorized as Kingdom

By Ralph Rickenbach

Accompanyist | Pastor in Exile | Iconoclast — I am a Gallup certified CliftonStrengths coach and a Spiral Dynamics practitioner.