For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Yes, that means God loves you and me, but John did not write that, he wrote “the world.” Clearly there is more to this whole salvation thing than just my, or your, personal salvation. This day, the day when God proves death does not and cannot win, is about saving the whole, entire world.
That’s hard to believe when the world seems so entirely nuts. Into such thoughts came my devotional email this Wednesday just past from friend of the show Mark Roberts. Mark writes of 2 Corinthians 5:16-17:
It was only later, when I studied Greek in graduate school, that I realized how much more was claimed in 2 Corinthians 5:17. The original language of this verse could be translated literally, “If anyone [is] in Christ, creation is new.” The NIV gets the sense of the text by saying, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.” You see, it’s not just that the individual is a new creation, though this is part of the truth. When we receive God’s grace through faith in Christ, we begin to live in the new creation that is yet to come. We begin to experience that which we will know fully in the future: forgiveness, restoration, healing, freedom, justice, and peace. Yes, our experience of the new creation is incomplete in this life. But it is real. And it is wonderful.
The resurrection we celebrate this day remakes the whole of creation – all of it.
And that made me think of a blog post I had encountered the week before:
In recent decades, a plethora of evangelical ministries has emerged designed to “engage the culture”. A Google search for “engage the culture” returns more than half a million results. Moreover, a huge number of operations designed to inculcate a Christian worldview and provide apologetics training are booming. In short, the evangelical effort to reverse America’s slide toward secularism and decadence has been vigorous and pervasive.
It has also been, largely, a failure. The evidence is plain. In spite of the resources poured into these efforts, American culture has increasingly embraced the cultural and sexual Left. Any impact of evangelical efforts to reverse this trend has been vanishingly small. How can millions upon millions of evangelicals have so little effect on the culture around them?
The answer is that evangelicals have failed to reckon with the fact that Christian belief is a mark of low status, and has been so for a long time.
I am sure those of this world do think of our Christianity as a “low status,” but then it is outside of their comprehension – it is a whole new world! Which in part illustrates the folly of “engaging the culture.” If a vastly superior race of aliens came to earth and tried to look like us, tried to engage our culture, we would probably assign them “low status” as well. But if they came and demonstrated their superiority – technologically, morally, spiritually and emotionally we would stand back in awe.
Our attempts to “engage the culture,” indicate that we think we operate from an inferior position. We buy into the “low status” the culture assigns us. But consider what we celebrate today – we celebrate a God that with a mere desire overcomes that apparent ultimate fate of all men. Of course we are superior because God has overcome death itself – and we are God’s people.
We are God’s instruments not to simply salvage this wrecked world, but to built it anew into something far superior to what it is now. We are not here to be a gifted mechanic that makes that 57 Bel Air run for another year – we are here to build a new car far superior to anything made today by anybody.
This year, let’s celebrate Easter not merely in gratitude for our salvation – let’s spend it in the new, and superior, creation .