Before the world was created, God was. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed in perfect love and enjoyed their life in each other. God existed as a missional community. This triune community determined to go on a mission and create a universe.
God created the world with the express purpose to share his love and life with it.
In order to bring about this world, God created Adam and Eve. He gave this first missional community a mandate to rule, subdue, and fill the earth to prepare the earth for God’s arrival. They were commanded to expand the Garden of Eden to the ends of the earth. When they had completed this mission, God would have come and dwelled with the world so that all of creation would find rest, love, and joy as they experience the presence of God.
However, the world as we know it has not yet found this rest, love, and joy. Adam and Eve chose to abandon this mission and decided they knew what was best for the world. They ate from the tree that God told them not to eat from, and this decision has had catastrophic consequences for the world. First, man was no longer rightly related to God. Their fellowship was broken. This broken fellowship with God means that humanity is no longer right themselves, with others, or the world itself. We all experience brokenness, whether it be anxiety, fear, guilt, or anger. We see the world filled with hate. And we are not right with the world. Rather than ruling over the dirt of the ground, we will all return to the dirt.
Second, Adam’s rebellion also gave the serpent rule over God’s world. Adam and Eve are no longer the king and queen of God’s good world. Satan, the archenemy of God, is now the one who would rule over God’s world.
What would become of God’s world now that his son and daughter no longer are rightly related to him and his enemy has taken over his world? God’s desire to dwell with his creation, however, would not be deterred. God determined in his grace to not destroy or leave the world alone. He planned to restore his world and bring it to what it should be—his dwelling place where humanity would participate in his love, peace, and joy.
God chose a man, Abraham, to bring about this plan. Abraham would become the father of the nation of Israel. Israel was to function as God’s new missional community. They were the new family God would use to bring the world back to what it should be. The Israelites, in their communal life, were given the mission to represent Yahweh to the nations by the way they lived their lives. They were to obey the Law, God’s commands, as the means by which the nations would come to know and fellowship with God. Israel’s history, though, like Adam and Eve, demonstrates they were unable to obey God’s commands and therefore allow the nations to experience the presence of God.
Then at the fullness of time, God acted. He wrote himself into the story.
Jesus of Nazareth was sent into this world as the Son of God. The Son who would perfectly relate to the Father and would conquer the serpent. He conquered the serpent in the greatest irony in the history of the world—through dying. The crucifixion of Jesus is where he took upon himself the curse of sin and brought forgiveness to humanity. It was also the place where he defeated the serpent. However, he did not just conquer the enemy and stay dead. No! Three days later he walked out of the grave as the new ruler of the world. He walked out of the grave with the beginnings of the new world that God had planned for at the beginning of creation.
Up to this point in the story, the good news that Jesus had conquered sin, Satan, and death had only reached Jerusalem; yet, God’s plan was for the whole world to enjoy his love and life. This good news would go the ends of the earth so that those who by faith follow Jesus could become part of a new family—God’s family. They could now become true sons and daughters.
In order for the Good News to reach the ends of the earth, Jesus commissioned the church to be his witnesses. The church has become the people of God who give their allegiance to Jesus in every arena of life by the power of the Spirit to display to world the victory of God over sin, Satan, and death. Through Jesus the church is the missional community that Israel could not become.
The church enacts its missionary identity through their life together, which is on display for the world to see. This life together consists of encouraging each other to keep believing the Good News and fight their sin; it consists of loving one another through serving one another; and it consists of living in the world but not being part of it so that those who do not follow Jesus will encounter the living God through his people.
The church is called to give their lives to this mission until Jesus returns to the earth. Jesus will come and finally conquer all the remaining forms of sin, cast Satan into an eternal abyss, and create the new world where God will dwell with his people. This new world will be the place where death is no more, sorrow has been eradicated, pain and crying will be gone, and evil and injustice abolished. The people of this new world will finally and fully enjoy the life and love of God for all of eternity.