I love progressive change. I love seeing things and people and relationships being restored. I love things getting better and better instead of worse and worse. I love to see people rising up and accepting challenges. I love encouraging people to reach their potential and going beyond those imaginary limits that we all put on ourselves. It is the process of redemption.
Part of the problem with redemption is that all we have ever known since the day we gasped our first breath of earth’s atmosphere, is a world tainted by the presence of sin and evil. We all long for things to be whole, be pure, be right, but if we truly ask ourselves, we have little concept of what that would look like. Just take a brief survey of what people think heaven is like and you will get everything from blank stares to elaborate imaginations that hold no basis in reality or perhaps a few vague notions of what we can expect. In the end, we really can’t grasp the concept of heaven, for it is totally foreign to us. We cannot fathom what perfection and “normal” is because we have never lived without the plague of sin.
When you break a bone, you know that something is wrong because of the pain and the abrupt feeling that something is different, out of place, not as it should be. As it heals, you slowly get back the sensation of what it was like before you injured yourself. You remember what being whole felt like, so you know when you are healed. This lack of recognition and comprehension of how God really meant for things to be has proved to be a fundamental weakness in my journey towards wholeness. It hampers my discernment, it distorts my view of God and goodness, it erodes away at my faith, and it blinds me to see the true nature of God.
Before we get all cynical and depressed here, let me state that sin and its consequences do not scare God nor render him impotent in any way. He is able to reveal himself through the darkest cloud and to the utmost reaches of depraved humanity. This is not a hopeless situation by any means. But I don’t believe I have realized just how much sin has ravaged everything in this world, and I have mistaken some things for normal and healthy and accepted them as such when they are in fact crippled and diseased. Knowing right from wrong is no good unless you can also tell life from death.
Understanding the first two chapters of Genesis is vital to comprehending true redemption – what was the world like that God created before sin stripped it of its colour and vitality and power? We must know what we are being redeemed towards if we are to embrace and walk in that redemption, and I fear I have fallen far short in my expectations here. This process is more than just a bandage to stop the blood loss and cover the wound; it is a total rebuilding of every affected cell – the creation of a new person. The second place we must look to understand redemption is the person of Jesus. His death and subsequent resurrection were so powerful that not only could he breathe and talk and eat, he could walk through walls! Now that’s redemption! Perhaps this was an ability Adam had as well. Who knows? The third place we look to get a picture of how things REALLY operate when God is in charge is the place where he rules – heaven. Contrary to the stereotypical harps and clouds, God’s throne seems to be associated with awe-inspiring activity and power and love and justice. Put these three pictures together and we can begin to see what God is calling us to.
Let me become a recipient of total redemption and in that way, a true carrier of the image of God. Untainted.