Before anything we could label “the beginning” began, God was present. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – that exact Trinity existed long before the angels were created, even longer before the Garden of Eden grew into lush maturity, and even longer still before time itself was created. God had no need for anything.
Then, at some point, millions of angels were created. We know that these angels would cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come”. Before our earth was even present, waves and waves and waves of angels fell to the ground, on their faces, and worshiped God in the splendor of His holiness.
One of those angels – the one who possessed the most beauty and the most arrogance – waged a war in heaven, against God. Lucifer was crushed, but not killed. He was discarded from heaven, together with one-third of the angels.
It’s not a stretch to assume that this must have shattered God’s heart.
But the truest heart of a loving warrior always takes another chance at love. And so with zeal and holiness and a broken heart, God risked it all again by speaking the earth into existence.
Just like the angels, God would again craft something that was fearfully and wonderfully made. These were beings that weren’t angels, but something He called “man and woman”. And rather than force Adam and Eve to love Him, He did the one thing that could bring Him great joy, or cause Him deep pain. He gave them the ability to choose to love Him in return.
They chose to love Him at first, and He chose to walk in the cool of the evening with Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.
But then, the very angel that had been discarded from heaven, appeared in the Garden, whispering lies and empty promises. The woman believed, and took a bite into the emptiness of his hollow lies. The man followed because… he was a guy. And because Eve was both gorgeous and naked. I know – I’m reaching.
But even at the exact moment when the heart of God was being shattered into tiny pieces, He provided a gift of grace to those who were doing the shattering.
He provided a covering.
And for the next long period of humanity, God would not stop covering people who wanted to love Him back. His covering included scapegoats that were sent off into the wilderness. It was a covering that involved death as a necessary element of life – it was the blood of bulls and goats. There were priests and judges and prophets and kings – all covering people so they could interact with a holy God. That is God’s heart, after all.
Intimacy with His creation.
And in the fulness of time, God sent the ultimate sacrifice. He sent His Son. The very same Word who was there in the beginning, became flesh and made His dwelling with His creation.
He would live a life that we couldn’t even come close to. He would die a criminal’s death, in our place. Iron deposits that He formed in the earth’s foundations were formed into nails that would pierce His hands and feet, being driven through flesh and into wood that was taken from a tree He caused to grow. In Christ, God was covering us. But He was doing more. He wasn’t just covering. He was removing.
IN CHRIST, GOD WAS COVERING US. BUT HE WAS DOING MORE. HE WASN’T JUST COVERING. HE WAS REMOVING.
God was removing our sins, and He was remembering them no more. In Christ, God was taking our sins, and launching them into the deepest ocean, never to be seen or heard of again.
And God doesn’t swim.
Sunday comes and Jesus walks out of the grave alive. And as the stone is rolled away, people are being offered something. They’re not being offered a new list of rules, leading to a new legalism. They’re not being offered a new denomination. And they’re not being offered a new religion.
They’re being offered life.
And just when we think that everything is done and finished and complete, we realize that it’s not. We realize that God sends His Holy Spirit to indwell us and equip us to do this one glorious thing.
We’re invited to partner with God in a daily life that proclaims the fact that God is not dead, that He has not abandoned humanity, and that He is redeeming it all for His glory. The world is still a marred but beautiful place because God still lives here.
THE WORLD IS STILL A MARRED BUT BEAUTIFUL PLACE BECAUSE GOD IS STILL ALIVE, AND BECAUSE HE HASN’T ABANDONED US. AND HE MAKES HIMSELF KNOWN THROUGH US.
We’re not little gods. We’re image-bearers, who are equal parts marred and beautiful. We reflect the reality of the world, but we also illuminate the brightest Light known to man.
And so the early church, and the church in the Dark Ages, and the church before the Industrial revolution, and the underground church in Asia, and the poorest church in the Third World, and the largest church in North America – all are called to partner together with God in the grand telling of His story – of that story – a story of life, and love, and redemption.
“God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:9
Dear friends – Our lives are telling a story. The Grand Narrator is inviting us to write, and to script, and to act, and to craft, and to narrate.
And we can choose to fall headlong into this Grand Story, or we can choose to push safely into some pseudo-event that religion has created as a scrappy second. Now more than ever, we desperately need to have the courage and the faith required to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly – and with boldness to play our part in God’s beautiful and explosive Narrative.
So may we do this in a more compelling way today than yesterday.
And may we reject the path of least resistance that simply requires us to prove our beliefs right, without loving people who disagree with us.