The Creative Life between His First & Second Comings
Religions have generally portrayed the ultimate good for any person is to escape this physical world that is bound to decay, deterioration, and destruction. Everything physical that is susceptible to sickness, weakness, and harm is associated with the cause of suffering. Whether it’s our spirits escaping the cycle of reincarnation, being united with the one source, or leaving a vile world to be in paradise based on our good deeds, religions advocate the grand dream for anyone is to abandon a flawed and fallen physical existence. The gospel of Jesus, however, presents a uniquely creative vision.
One of the striking aspects of the gospel message is that Jesus resurrected physically. He didn’t escape and abandon his physical form, but redeemed it, retaining only the scars he bore on the cross as a constant symbol of God’s covenant of grace by atonement. On the other end of the gospel message is Jesus is coming back still in physical form to recreate our physical world – nature, people, society, civilization, culture – through the pairing of redemption and justice. The entirety of the gospel message is not escapist, but recreative, validating the “good” world God initially and intentionally made. This is a world that God loves and does not desire to abandon. Every spiritual aspect and physical particle belongs to the Creator. God, the creator, is genuinely creative in his plan to redeem what others would have seen to be lost.
Creativity is bold. It looks at a pile of junk and does not see what others may see, a hopeless mass of refuse meant for discarding. Creativity takes that junk and remakes it into a surprisingly visionary work of art. To be truly creative, the gospel message emboldens us with the visionary perspective of looking into the mess of our world, lives, marriages, jobs, and neighborhoods and to take on a posture of restoring and remaking, versus abandoning and discarding. So we must remain in the world, engage it and care about it – from nuclear families to community developments to natural preservations. Humbly and wisely judge what is right and wrong, good and bad, or truthful and untruthful, for that’s the only way we can discern a path of restoration. Then, work on our marriages, pour into our children, invest into our communities, and turn our jobs around. Resignation is the enemy of creativity.
N.T. Wright wrote in Surprised by Hope, “Our task in the present… is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” If you are a Christian, you live with the remembrance of the physical resurrection of Jesus behind you and with the hope of the return of Jesus to restore the physical world ahead of you. As sojourners in between His two comings, our lives are encompassed by both the memory and the vision, calling us to be truly, bravely creative in the world for its flourishing. As creative sojourners, we hold out hope to world as beacons of light, heralds of truth, and artists of the Redeemer, because we’re not trying to leave it. We’re trying to restore its beauty as a good God intended.