Today’s post is the continuation of the last couple of day’s posts which can be found here and here. We shall explore two final points that discuss the connection between new creation and resurrection and what that says about our world before wrapping up this short series.
The genesis of a new world
The genesis of a new world
In light of all of this the resurrection cannot be seen as denoting anything less than the ‘genesis’ of a new world breaking into this world in the midst of all that already is. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the raising of the kingdom of God with him instigates the undoing and surpassing of the strength that makes all current powers strong. Death is being worked backwards and so with this is the entropy and contingency of creation itself (Romans 8:18-22 and Revelation 21). The acts of healing and provision that were definitive of both Jesus’ life and the kingdom of God, demonstrated empirically the dawning of this new creation – the gospel writer John refers to the seven acts he notes as ‘signs’ that the old way of the world was being supplanted.
To be people who identify, in baptism, as Jesus’ people (as people who do not just get resurrection like he got it, but receive it in him, with him, nowhere apart from Jesus himself – this is what it is to be part of Christ’s body), as those dead with him and raised also in the very same of his life, is to be a people of this resurrection, to be a people who operate with confidence that the ineffective hold death had on Jesus will be the same for us also, we to shall know bodily life post death, in a world renewed. The resurrection of Jesus is the sign this future resurrection and recreation will occur.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:11
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 1 Cor. 15:20, 23
A resurrection in the middle of history was not expected by any Jew, things didn’t work like that. The disciples had to deal and reason with what it meant and it was clear to them that Jesus’ resurrection was the assurance that those people who located their life in Christ, and in is kingdom community, would experience resurrection upon his return. This is what ‘firstfruits’ means. Christ was resurrected first, as a sign of what was to come, having defeated the separating power of death.
Yet this is not a solely future arrangement for the people of Jesus. The new creation the resurrection unleashes is happening in people who find themselves identifying as people of God’s kingdom.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17
It is happening now. The resurrection and the new life it points to, makes us a pointer to that same new life. Whenever peace, truth, non-violence, gentleness, self-control, care, humble service are embodied by those living by the Spirit of God, there new creation and resurrection are taking place.
God’s embrace of life, here
Ultimately, in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, this world is embraced by God so fully it is next to blasphemy to suggest that humans belong anywhere else. The resurrections says bodies matter, matter matters, trees and music and ozone all matter to God – it all matters to the God who rescues life from death, to the God who says “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:5). Notice God is not starting anew! Everything is being made new. What affirms this is the resurrection.
The resurrection as a symbol declares precisely our incapacity for apocalyptic destruction – and equally declares that the ‘divine prerogative’ of destruction is in any case a fantasy. God’s act is faithful to his character as creator, and he will destroy no part of this world: his apocalyptic act of restoration.
The resurrection has set in motion an eschatologically determined process of history, whose goal is the annihilation of death in the victory of the life of the resurrection, and which ends in that righteousness in which God receives in all things his due and the creature thereby finds its salvation.
What confirms and sets this in motion is Jesus raised from the dead. Familiar, yet unfamiliar, in his resurrection body. Mistaken as a gardener, yet touched where the pieces pierced him. Eating breakfast and catching fish, yet not recognised in extended conversation until he breaks bread. Appearing in locked rooms, but also sitting on a beach. The discontinuity is obvious, yet the continuity is pronounced there was matter, there was food, talk, touch, sight and smell because the resurrection makes things new, it does not destroy that which is very good.
To be a people made alive by God the creator and re-creator makes us an ecological people, a people of justice, a people working profoundly for the better, a people defined by the nature of and living within God’s kingdom, in the midst of the world’s current condition. The God who makes ‘everything new’ is a God who affirms that anything we do that is touched by the kingdom of peace, hope, love and justice will not be in vain, they are designated new in their very essence and shall be part of the newly restored world as it operates as a revelation and anticipation of the God who, out the resurrection of Jesus, promises all things nothing less than life out of death.
A lack of resurrection now?
As this series of posts comes to a close it should be addressed that we live in a world that looks thoroughly un-new. That is deadly and oppressive, with people (notably, Christians) that fail to represent this resurrection of which I speak. All I can say is, “yes, you are right, we do” and it is vital to recognise this very fact. The resurrection is not cheap, it is not an escape, it was realised through the full embrace of suffering and death in crucifixion and it is only known now in those same circumstances.
Faith does not come into its own in becoming radically unworldly, but by hopeful outgoing into the world it becomes a benefit to the world. By accepting the cross, the suffering and the death of Christ, by taking upon it the trials and struggles of obedience in the body and surrendering itself to the pain of love, it proclaims in the everyday world the future of the resurrection, of life and the righteousness of God. The future of the resurrection comes to it as it takes upon itself the cross.
When you know pain, when a tsunami takes place and eliminates the lives of thousands, when there is death and loss that you must live and suffer with, all of this and more is affirmed as a horror, a void, an emptiness and meaninglessness that is itself a hell – there cannot be any other name. Yet the way of crucifixion does not let us run from them. The crucifixion says “you will undergo this; you do not have the option of escape, that is cheap and delusional.” It is here in taking up what the crucifixion takes up that we know the affirmation of the God who, in the resurrection of Jesus, promises nothing less than life out of death.
On Easter Sunday we remembered that we live in the wake of the resurrection of God.
That is good news; yet it is news that is more than news, it is an invitation.