Jesus is the blueprint for a new humanity

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As Christians living in a sin-tainted world, we’re engaged in a struggle–a resistance if you will–against powers that are rebellious and estranged from their true King, Jesus. In Jesus we participate in his project of regaining mastery of the created order and moving it towards re-creation, a new creation that mirrors the values of God’s kingdom.

Jesus is doing this by the creation of a new humanity—the church.

When I refer to the church, I’m thinking of –in the words of the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”—“elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation one faith, one life, one birth…”[1] In other words: the waters of baptism are thicker than the blood ties of ethnicity and nationality:

With Jesus’ resurrection, the new age has dawned. The new man has emerged from among the old humanity, whose life he had shared, whose pain and sin he had borne. For Paul, as throughout the Bible, sin and death were inextricably linked, so that Christ’s victory over the latter signaled his defeat over the former.[2] – N T Wright

[See also: Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:12-28]

Here is where we fit into the story.

As Christians, as part of this new humanity, we are God’s agents working to subvert the rule of sin and death in the empires of the present age. This vocation is an active one, especially if we consider Paul’s description of his apostolic mission in 2 Corinthians 10:4ff. as a paradigm for engagement in the world:

Though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Notice again the comprehensiveness of this vision: between Colossians 1 and 2 Corinthians 10 we see the interplay of spirit and flesh, heaven and earth, dominions and opinions; and through both, powers that are at work.

The hope of Colossians 1—our hope—is that Jesus is not one power amongst a pantheon of competing powers. Instead, he is above, beyond, before, and over these powers—they have no existence independent of him.

This Jesus has given himself to the world in love in order to make reconciliation possible—a returning of prodigal creation to its father that results in a new humanity, the church.

This passage demands our acknowledgement that there is no sphere of existence over which Jesus is not sovereign.[3] God’s rules, God’s values, aren’t legitimate in some places and illegitimate in other places—no, they are over all. As C. S. Lewis puts it, “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”[4]

 

 

[1] “The Church’s One Foundation” available online at: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/833? Accessed February 18, 2017.

[2] N. T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon, 74.

[3] Ibid., 79.

[4] See C. S. Lewis, “Christianity and Culture” in Christian Reflections, ed. W. Hooper (1967): 33.

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