Some days, you don’t seem to be able to do anything right. Nothing has gone as planned, and you can’t wait for the day to be over. All you want to do is go to bed and forget about it. And hopefully, when the sun rises in the morning, it will be a new day and a chance at a fresh start.
Tomorrow, you mumble to yourself as your head hits the pillow. Tomorrow will be better.
But the good news — gospel good news — is that tomorrow is already here.
The overarching narrative of Scripture, the story told by the Bible considered as a whole, begins “in the beginning” with Creation. Sin, of course, quickly enters the picture, and the story takes one tragic turn after another. But God is neither absent nor asleep during any of this, and the prophets speak of an eventual day of rescue and restoration, the coming of a Messiah.
Those who follow Christ believe that Messiah has come. But that’s not the end of the story. From the book of Genesis, we can read all the way through to the book of Revelation: from the story of a good creation spoiled by sin, we come at last to a vision of a new heaven and a new earth in which the redeemed will live in resurrected glory.
Paul, therefore, is able to write this:
So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! (2 Cor 5:17, CEB)
The long awaited future has begun; tomorrow is here today. Literally, Paul says, “So that if anyone (is) in Christ, new creation!” Some translations render this as “he is a new creation,” which is possible. But in our individualistic, self-help culture, this too easily becomes a Gospel of Me, narrowing the good news to what God has done for my personal benefit.
To be clear: that’s not to say that the good news isn’t for us personally (as suggested in the previous post). We anticipate resurrection, and even enjoy some of that newness now through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
But we shouldn’t think of this as a personal favor done for us by God. Our transformation is a sign of something greater. If anyone is in Christ, Paul says, in a verbal gesture that sweeps the Corinthians and all the church into its embrace, that person is part of God’s grand scheme of redemption and renewal!
The story awaits the climactic return of Jesus as Lord and King before we can know the fullness of the resurrection life that awaits. In the meantime, however, we need to ask ourselves to what extent a sense of newness, possibility, and hope pervades the way we understand ourselves, others, and our world.
New creation: even now, the old world is passing away. Yes, sin still exists. Yes, we groan and suffer. Yes, people and nations treat each other in unkind and unjust ways.
The tomorrow for which our spirits long is already here, in part. We are in Christ; Christ is in us. And who knows what could happen if we truly believed it.