God’s hopes for us began before the creation of the world. And what God intended from the beginning gives us insight into how God works to bring about what he intends. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul teaches that God “chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4). In Christ, Paul continues, God “predestined us for adoption to sonship…to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves”—which, of course, is Christ (vs. 5-6). God made known to us “the mystery of his will” which he purposed in Christ (and that was hidden from the demonic realm throughout the ages, vss. 8-9).
This plan was put into effect at the right time, and its goal was to “bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (vs. 10). Paul then says again that we who are in Christ were “predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (vs. 11). And all of this, Paul says, was “to the praise of his glorious grace” (vs. 6).
What a teaching! The Bible teaches that God created humanity to rule with Christ on the earth so that we might participate with God in God’s intentions for the world (Gen. 1:26-28; 2 Tim.2:12; Rev. 5:10, 22:5). How God plans to accomplish this has always been to put his perfect love and grace on display by having humanity united in Christ and the whole of creation united under Christ. And when humanity co-rules with Christ the way God always intended, the whole of humanity, and the whole of creation, shall magnificently shine as the dome in which God is King—the Kingdom of God. This is the way that God changes the world.
Paul is making the same basic point when he says that all things were created by Christ and for Christ. Christ was always intended to be the head of humanity, his “body,” and the means by which God united the cosmos together (Col. 1:15 -20). This is also why Paul taught that the grace that saves us was “given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Tim. 1.9) and why Jesus said that the glory he gives to us was given him “before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17:24).
God’s hopes of incorporating us in Christ and loving us with the same love he has for Christ was no afterthought on God’s part. The incarnation was not merely a response to our fallen state. This dream of uniting God and humans was there from before the foundation of the world. This dream for the world is the way that God changes the world. In the midst of all kinds of agendas to make the world a better place, Jesus prayed for what seems like the most unusual way of bringing about change. Take a moment to meditate on Jesus’ words:
“My prayer is not for them [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:20-26)
What a beautiful hope! What a beautiful way to change the world.