As I’ve reflected on the brokenness and division that’s erupted in our world lately, I’ve found myself crying out for justice. I long to see the narrative of redemption and restoration reign across the edges of our earth, because that’s not what I’m seeing when I look at the news or open up social media. How do I respond to the pain and inequity ever unfolding before us?
As we find ourselves living in this tension, it becomes more and more evident that we are created to long for God’s kingdom to come, His will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). In fact, this is in our nature as human beings, as sons and daughters of Christ! The Bible says, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. Not only that but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the first fruits – we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23). All of creation groans, longing for redemption. My own longing for redemption was stirred up as I considered the brokenness of the societal structures that are said to promote “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
What I was actually struggling to see was the fruit of Jesus’ death on the cross in our world. For it is His death that supposedly brings life, liberty, and the deepest joy we could ever long for. And then, this past Sunday, I was challenged with this very message. Isn’t the Lord funny and so kind?!
During the sermon, I was reminded that we are meant to carry God’s image, and are designed to look like Him for all the world to see. Even in our sin and brokenness, we are created in the image of God, and are constantly being re-created back into God’s image! We are adopted, we rebel, and then we are sought after and redeemed. Because we bear God’s image, it is our deepest desire to become more like Him. As we transform, we begin reflecting His character. We live out the image of God in our unique lives. So, this means that as we grow in Him, our hearts break and burn just like His. We become justice-seekers and peacemakers because God is the truest justice-seeker and peace-maker. It’s in our new DNA. We are redeemed to make a difference!
Not only are we created to long for and discover our own personal redemption, we wait longingly for the redemption and restoration of the entire fallen world. From almost the beginning, our world has been broken and divided—kind of like what we’re seeing right now. But when we look at the big picture of God’s redemption from Genesis to Revelation, we realize that God is not only at work in our own lives by securing our own personal redemption, but is working to restore all of humanity into togetherness. Togetherness doesn’t mean sameness, but more so, that there is no division or disparity between us. We are for each other, we are with each other; we are unified in Christ and by Christ.
When we read Galatians 3:28, we see this theme come full circle. The Passion Translation says this: “And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female—because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us.” This is why the apostle Paul tells us we are created to be together despite racial, ethnic, class, or gender divisions (Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female…), and to take up the burdens of others because we are all made in the image of God.
As we look out at the division, chaos, hatred, and injustice, we can’t help but eagerly await the promise of the coming Kingdom, where everything is made new and right, and the togetherness for which we are made is restored! And as redeemed Christ-bearers we get to to join in on God’s plan of redemption and restoration here and now! What an honour it is to be invited into this beautiful work of our God.
Take a moment to reflect on this big picture of redemption. Consider these questions to reflect on your own redemption process and the broader redemption of humanity:
- What areas of my life reflect the life, freedom, and joy that Jesus offers? What is one way I can grow in each of these areas?
- How can I be a redemptive presence in my family, friend groups, and community?
- Am I allowing the Gospel narrative, and the truth that I am fully redeemed, seep into my every thought and action, in the pursuit of justice and unity? What is one step I can take to move further in this direction?
As we continue to be transformed and look more like Christ in our own redemption process, we join into God’s plan and work of redemption across the globe here and now. Through this process of personal redemption, we realize God is up to something greater in His story of humanity, and become a redemptive presence in the pursuit of unity and togetherness. It is from this place that we take up the burdens of our brothers and sisters, fight for justice and unity, and yearn for the eternal home free of brokenness and division that God is preparing for us.
But until that day, we pray that God’s kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.