Darryl Dash observes that It’s about more than people, musing out of a week spent with Dan Block. It’s a good post with diagrams to illustrate our conception of the relationship between Yahweh and the People of God. In reality, there is a three-way relationship between Yahweh, the People of God, and the earth, or all of creation. After an illustrative quote from Hosea, Darryl writes,
I asked Dr. Block if this helps us understand the cosmic implications of the gospel, and he said, “Of course!” The gospel isn’t only about reestablishing a bipartite relationship between God and us; it restores a tripartite relationship between God, his people, and the earth. Not only is our relationship with God restored through Christ’s work, but creation itself is being redeemed.
This has been an intriguing theme for me over the past few years and particularly in more recent months as some of it has started to gel a bit more in my thinking. This is aided in part by the fact I’ve been reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, which touches on the theme as well in the process of addressing some of the shoddy eschatology that has been floating around. You know the type — the belief system that’s just waiting for the earth to be destroyed, and for that reason has given up on taking care of it in the here and now. At its worst, the thinking begins with the environment and ends with the cultures and peoples around us. Wright’s corrective position is that it’s not “all about” biding our time here until we can jet-pack to heaven for eternity. Heaven is a temporary scene, to be replaced with life on a new/restored earth.
In a way, it’s comforting to know that the plan of God is bigger than us. But it also makes everything more serious. This view is not something entirely foreign to me, and it feels a bit like recovering valuable truth… I confess that during my charismatic days, I felt a lot of this doctrine slipping away, losing ground to the victorious church and other ideas that downplay the importance of the physical world in which we live. It’s good to recapture the physical plane.