Creation, old and new

In recent posts, we’ve been looking at the mind-bending opening verses of John’s story of Jesus. John reaches back into the eternal past, to the time before the creation of the universe: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He hasn’t quite said it yet, but soon he will make it clear — this eternal “Word” is none other than the one who will walk among us as a man named Jesus.

The Word was the agent of creation, the one through whom everything — everything — came into being (vs. 3). And we should keep that cosmic backdrop in view when we read what Paul writes about new creation. If the pre-existent Christ, as the eternal Word, was the agent of the first creation, then the crucified and risen Jesus was the agent of the new creation.

“So if anyone is in Christ,” Paul writes, “there is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17, NRSV). Or this: “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph 2:10).

It’s one thing to say Jesus died for our sins so we can go to heaven. But it’s another to say that he has ushered us into God’s new creation.

The first statement makes the gospel story all about us. The drama is personal, sin is the plot complication, and heaven is the happy ending.

But the second statement puts the first in a much broader context, without setting it aside. It’s not just about how sin is a problem for us, but for the whole of creation. And in Christ, we are not people who are merely waiting to board the train to glory. Rather, we are people who give glory to God here and now by “good works” that demonstrate that the day of the new creation has already dawned.

Through the eternal Word, all of creation came into being. Through Jesus Christ, the new creation was born, and signs of rebirth are popping up everywhere.

And if you are in Christ, you’re one of them.