unity trees

The Destiny of God’s People

Jesus represents the realization of God’s glorious dream for humanity. In Christ, we see what we who are in Christ are destined to be. As a stick placed in a river is destined to be carried to whatever body of water the river runs to, so all who have allowed themselves to be drawn by the Spirit into Christ are destined to eventually look like Jesus (Rom. 8:28). When he appears at the end of the age, we shall see him as he truly is, John says, for we shall be like him (1 Jn. 3:2).

This is why the New Testament speaks of Christ as “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”(Rom 8:29). A new family is being brought into being, and we shall all resemble Christ. This is also what Paul means when he refers to Jesus as “the first fruit” of those who now “sleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). The “first fruit” in ancient Israel referred to fruit that was picked before the rest of the crop. These early pickings were, among other things, considered the guarantee that God would be faithful in bringing forth the rest of the crop. Jesus is “the first fruit” of a coming harvest that will look the same as him. Jesus reveals ahead of time the harvest of the humanity that God has always been dreaming of.

Jesus was the Kingdom of God and why all who belong to the Kingdom by definition look like him. The entire creation project is centered on God’s dream of uniting himself with humanity as humanity co-rules with him on the earth. The whole creation is being steered toward a vision of a future in which everything will be harmoniously united under Christ, and thus become a dome in which God is King (Eph 1:9).

While individuals are free to align themselves with this divine vision or not, this glorious vision of humanity and creation becoming a radiant domain of God’s reign, dancing with and in the triune God, has been predestined from before the foundation of the world. It cannot fail to happen. And what we are now discovering is that Jesus incarnates this future in the present. He is the predestined man who embodies the predestined future (1 Pet 1:20).

Jesus manifests the future reign of God in the midst of the present reign of evil powers. He manifests the future union of God with humanity in the midst of a rebellious epoch in which God and humanity continue to be estranged from one another. He manifests humanity restored to their rightful place over the earth in the midst of a humanity that continues to be oppressed. He manifests humanity freed from sin and sickness in the midst of a humanity yet in bondage to sin and yet infected by the devil with sickness.

So too, in the midst of a world that continues to be defined by oppressive powers that incline us toward violence and hatred, Jesus reveals what humanity will look like when we’re exhaustively defined by God’s love. In the midst of a world where death continues to reign, Jesus’ resurrection reveals what humanity will be like when death has finally been overcome. In the midst of a world that continues to be oppressed by the ugly kingdom of Satan, Jesus reveals the beautiful Kingdom of God.

The sheer beauty of this coming kingdom, shining in the midst of the present ugly world, pulls people who are hungry for a different way of doing life into it. We might say it this way: Jesus creates a tribe of the future that God uses to move the oppressed world into its beautiful future.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Related Reading

Smack Talk on the Idolatry of the Family

Ben Ponder doesn’t pull any punches in his article Idolatry of the Family. He argues that, contrary to some evangelical claims, “Jesus didn’t die on a God-forsaken cross to preserve your horn-rimmed vision of 1950s Americana.” Can a marriage or a family become an idol? Ben thinks so. What do you think? From the article:…

A Step Toward Racial Reconciliation

In this sermon clip, Greg, as a representative of a white man in America, asks for forgiveness of people of color for all the harm that white America has done. This is not about disparaging whiteness. This is simply about acknowledging the truth of our heritage so that we can make a way for healing,…

The Political Ambiguity of the Abortion Issue

José Manuel Ríos Valiente via Compfight. As an illustration of the ambiguity of the abortion question when approaching it from a political point of view, here’s an article portraying Obama as a hero of the pro-life movement. Our purpose for posting this isn’t to suggest that all of us should vote for Obama in light of…

A Christ-Follower’s Alternative to New Year’s Goals

tomo tang via Compfight Richard Dahlstrom over at Fibonacci Faith offered an alternative to setting New Year’s goals that can steal peace in our lives. What if we committed to attending to all the little revelations God gives us and made space to absorb these God-moments in order to respond well? Let’s all make this…

Typhoon Haiyan and “Natural” Evil

Greg recorded his thoughts a few days ago on Typhoon Haiyan and the reality of “natural” evil that’s not really natural at all. “This an enemy has done.” (Matthew 13:28)

The Political Ambiguity of Caring for the Poor

Ronn aka “Blue” Aldaman via Compfight In case you think the last post was a veiled endorsement for Obama, here’s an article arguing that Mitt Romney is the candidate to vote for if you really care for the poor. Again, there are many schools of thought and it’s overly simplistic to think that voting for…