What does May 21, 2011 have in common with October 22, 1844?
- What is the overarching story line of the Bible?
- How should the Bible be understood?
- Is God violent?
- Who is Jesus and why is he important?
- What is the gospel?
Well, if God is not going to destroy the world, what is he going to do with it? The first answer is what we have just been saying. He is going to give it into our stewardship, our care. We know, however, that has been a dangerous thing and, as I said to that woman at Strong, if anybody is going to destroy the world, we are.
But that is not God’s trajectory. What is? I look to two places in the New Testament for a description of what God intends for the future of creation. The first is from St. Paul in Romans:
The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; …in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (8:19-21).
The creation will be set free, as we human beings will have been set free. And the second is from, of all places, the Revelation to John:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…and I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… (21:1-2).
The creation will not be destroyed. It will be transformed.
Brian McLaren sees in the biblical story a sort of “3-Dimensional” trajectory, the dimensions being creation, liberation and the peaceable kingdom. These are God’s intentions for the future. This, he suggests, is a better vision than the determinism offered by so many supposedly biblical prophecies of judgment and doom. In this way of seeing God’s intentions, he says
We might say that…the future is un-doomed—un-doomed…to eventual healing and joy, un-doomed to ultimate resurrection, liberation, reconciliation, and (in the fullest sense of the word) salvation, because the living God will never forsake or forget his beloved creation.
God’s intention, even for the future, even for this moment of which we heard Paul speak in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles this morning, of
A day on which [God] will have the world judged in righteousness…
will not involve suddenly, something dreadful being done to us. Even this end, whatever it is, or looks like, will occur out of relationship. It will be participatory. That was our Anglican ancestor Richard Hooker’s favorite word for describing our place in the creation: participation.
The good news today is that when it comes to the future we are not holding on by our finger nails or cowering under our beds waiting for God’s wrath to destroy the earth or arrogantly assuming that we will be saved and everyone who doesn’t agree with us will be tormented. We are in relationship with God and the Bible does not lie when it says that this God is Love itself.
But this God does have a constant challenge for us: join me. Participate with me in the creation of the future, a future that together we will call “good.”
 Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith (HarperCollins, 2010). He introduces the questions beginning on p. 19.
 Walter Brueggemann, Genesis: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (John Knox, 1982), p. 32.
 The Book of Common Prayer, p. 373.
 McLaren, p. 194.
 Ibid., pp. 195-196.