Does this World have a Future?
NT Wright sums up the early Christian view this way, in Surprised by Hope, “God will do for the cosmos what he had done for Jesus.” This means that Jesus’s resurrection is a signpost as to what God has in store for the whole cosmos. For the first time, death did not have the final say. Before this, all living things followed the same pattern—birth, life, death, decay, dust. But with Jesus, there was birth, life, death and then resurrection. Jesus was dead and then alive again and, it was a bodily resurrection.
This resurrected body was similar in many ways to the body that had died. Jesus breathed. He could be touched. He could eat. He could prepare breakfast. He could walk and talk. He could teach. It had then a material quality to it that we can relate to. But, it was different in other ways, all bodies decay, this body did not and would not. It had a permanence in a way that our bodies do not. Jesus as the son of God, living within his resurrected body was in fact still fully human, but that bodily humanity existed with new qualities, new capacities, dare I say a new possibilities.
Paul asserted that Jesus’s resurrection was a signpost for what God intends for humanity in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. First fruits means God intends, and has always intended, to bring humanity through the same process as Jesus. Jesus defeats death, now death and decay cannot touch him. It is now possible for the rest of humanity to live outside the specter of death.
We now have bodies, were earth bound, and made subject to death and decay. The bodies we will be given will be prepared for life with God in his kingdom eternally. Paul says these bodies are raised imperishable, raised in glory, raised in power. As we put our trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we are positioned to be made like him in his resurrected state (1 Corinthians 15).
In Colossians 1:15-20, Paul tells us that Jesus resurrection actually affects “all things.” Jesus is before all things. All things have been created in him (heaven, earth, visible, invisible). All things have been created for him. All things hold together by him. And, all things will be reconciled to God through him. Jesus’s work of reconciliation leaves nothing untouched.
God intends, as he has always intended to renew the whole cosmos and position it for eternity. In the vision that John records in Revelation 21:1-5, heaven (where God is, not necessarily a locality, but a dimension) and earth are united in a way that they are not now. These two parallel dimensions are united, and for the first time, God’s will is done fully in both dimensions. John sees that the old world characterized by chaotic, decay, violence, selfishness is gone and the new world, now married to God’s world is marked by God’s shalom. The world has been healed—no longer is there death or mourning or crying or pain.
The healing of the cosmos even affects the way people groups interact. Jesus’s reconciliation had repaired all four primary relationships that had been fractured. We do not fix this broken world. It is beyond our ability to repair. God has always planned for the very good world he gave us to be renewed by the work of his son, Jesus—our future is within that world. Jesus heals God’s good world world, and he heals us.