Living the life we should live.
We believe | The Bible is the story of God renewing our world. Theologians speak of this as the great story, with a narrative arc consisting of four major parts in redemption history: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and finally, Restoration.
The first book in the Bible is Genesis, and it says that God created the world and it was good (Gen 1:31). And there he created a man and a woman, and placed them in a garden called Eden. There they were to be fruitful and multiply, and to partner with God in caring for this world, and the presence of the glory of God was there with them … until sin came into the world …
The tragedy of the Bible is called the Fall, that moment when mankind rebelled against God and His right to govern and rule over their lives. Since this moment, all of creation has fallen into sin and is desperate and groaning for things to go back to the way they were supposed to be and awaits its promised liberation from bondage (Romans 8:19), until the promised redeemer would come…
In the fullness of time, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to live the life we should have lived and to die the death we deserved. He died as a substitute on the cross for our sins, and then rose victoriously over the grave. He then gave his followers a commission to proclaim this Gospel (good news). The message of the Gospel is the message of God’s grace, mercy and the forgiveness of sins for all who believe. But this is not the end of the story…
The testimony of the Bible is that God has every intention of renewing and restoring this world to a glory surpassing what it had at first. (Eph 3:20-21; Haggai 2:9) Jesus taught his disciples about the coming “renewal of all things.” (Matt 19:28). This may seem strange at first, because some Christians believe God will abandon this world and wisk them away to a spiritual heaven as they live in a sort of disembodied state in the presence of God. While there is some truth to this reality, this is incomplete and not the whole Gospel. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright says our ultimate hope is not life after death, but life after life after death. (*N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.)
This is because our final destination as God’s people is not as disembodied spirits in heaven, this state described in 2 Corinthians 5 is a merely a transitional period and is spoken of as a temporary dwelling while we wait for our earth’s renewal and our bodily resurrection. Our final destination is a renewed and restored world with resurrected bodies living with God who dwells among His people (Rev 21-22). This is why the good news is so good. We find that to be very exciting!
So what do we do now? Now we wait and we work. We work toward cultural renewal as we live in the tension of the already and not yet. In his book Generous Justice Tim Keller teaches that the church has a twofold mission in the world 1) to preach the gospel 2) to do justice which involves social and cultural transformation and renewal. James chapter 1 says true religion teaches us that we are to look after the widow and the orphan (which means to “advocate” for), and the book of Galatians tells us the early church was eager to remembering the poor (Gal 2:10).
We must resist two opposite temptations 1) Withdrawal, saying it’s not the job of Christians to try to mend the world and 2) Triumphalism, saying Christians ought to take power and make society the way it should be through force. Instead, we believe the Gospel gives us a third way, Engaging the culture w the Gospel and our faithful presence for the sake of cultural renewal and transformation.
We believe | God sends the Christian into the culture to live as Timothy Keller puts it, “with Christian distinctiveness,” intentionally walking out the implications of the gospel in each arena or role in life. We are to be agents of renewal and restoration. Jesus said to “Let your good deeds shine for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly father” (Matt 5:16). We do good, and we wait for the one who has promised us, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5).
*N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.