It seems that most people, at least in America, have one of two opposite views of extremes. Some say everything is getting worse and worse, while there are others that say everything is getting better and better. I would suggest that it is possible that neither one of those are correct. In part 1 it was suggested that evil is still present, but it doesn’t mean everything is spiraling into the abyss.
If we go back to the very beginning, God declared that His creation was good. This is important to note because so many Christians declare the opposite, that the world is a terrible place. It doesn’t appear that the early church had this view. I don’t think they believed everything was getting better and better, or worse and worse. I think they believed they were in God’s created world, and that through Jesus there was started a plan of rescue and redemption.
I think a helpful shift in our hearts and minds in this area may be to move from thinking horrible world and wonderful heaven, to thinking kingdom present and kingdom to come. I would suggest that we no longer look forward to abandoning the horrible world, or waiting on evolution/progress to create us a kingdom, but put our hope in God’s plan of rescue, redemption, the cross, resurrection, recreation, and the kingdom of God. We tend to think of leaving this terrible place, but the bible insists that heaven is coming to earth. Jesus even instructed us to pray that heaven would come to earth. We tend to think of heaven as out in space somewhere, and hell under our feet. So a popular concept is that we will one day float off to heaven as a transparent spirit with a soul. This matches several theologies, but I don’t think it matches the bible. If this were the case then it seems that death would only be partially defeated. If part of what God created gets lost in death, then how is death defeated? In the beginning when God said that creation was good, Adam and Eve were body, soul, spirit. When Jesus was resurrected, He had a physical body that Thomas could touch. I tend to think the bible says we will to, especially if we will be as He is, which is what the bible says. 1 Corinthians 15 is a good place to read some of this as well as Romans 8, and of course there are many other places. Of course I don’t know what all of this looks like, but I do think it can be said that there will be a physical body. The bible gives us more directional signs and symbols than 3-D pictures and blueprints.
We have to believe God when He said His creation was good in the beginning. I believe that it was supposed to reflect Him. With humans specifically, I think were supposed to reflect worship back to God, but also reflect His nature into the rest of creation through stewardship. We have of course failed in this from the beginning, but it is important to remember that God never fails. The things we do for the kingdom now, and the present expression of the kingdom are just a dull glimpse of what it will be when Jesus returns. Where we fail as stewards, God steps in rescues and redeems through Christ.
It is important to keep our faith in the good things that God is doing in His time and wisdom. Continuing to worship Him, and keeping our faith in His good work will also remind us that Jesus is the one coming with God’s kingdom (this doesn’t change our actions in being co-laborers with Him). This helps avoid some of the ditches that we can fall in with kingdom now theology such as pride, arrogance, and the building of our own empires while putting His name on the door. Sometimes things that begin with good kingdom intentions can fall out of alignment. People can be lured into worshipping power, pleasure, wealth, etc by the enemy. It is possible to fall into the trap of worshipping the created rather than the creator. However, I think this can be avoided if we keep our hope in God’s plan of rescue, redemption, the cross, resurrection, recreation, and the kingdom of God.
There is so much I don’t know, But I know my hope is in Him, and His kingdom is beyond what I can imagine.
God is for you, and I am for you!