I love Easter. It’s one of my favourite times of the year. It’s spring, which helps with the celebratory feeling. Winter has lost its grip on the world around us. Flowers are blooming, birds begin singing, and warm breezes play across my face, but more importantly, and most of all, Easter is a time when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. When Jesus died and then rose from the dead, He made all things right– He reconciled all things to himself (Colossians 1:19). Praise Him!
Crab-apple blossoms - J.Verbinnen
What are the implications of reconciliation? Our tendency is to focus on the reconciliation between God and humanity. But Scripture teaches us that there is so much more. Jesus came for a rescue mission. That mission was to save all of creation. That is the gospel; that Jesus died for all of creation. As humans, we become part of the rescued by believing in him. Creation desires and looks forward to being rescued, and has been doing so for a long time.
The desire of creation for restoration is woven into the Old Testament. For example, consider the closing words of Psalm 96.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Imagine the roar of the sea, or here in Ontario, the roar of the waves on the Great Lakes. In the rushing of the waves churning on the beach, and in the wind sweeping through the tree tops, the psalmist heard creation calling for his Lord to come, and to bring His justice.
Black-capped Chickadee - J.Verbinnen
Why is creation experiencing injustice? Creation is experiencing injustice because of our sin. That’s true in a couple of different ways. Most obviously, we harm creation in our our greed and pursuit of selfish gain.
When we live in Hamilton, it’s easy to see and smell the injustice. The industrial areas in the north end are built on former wetlands that have been filled in. The air in the North end of the city is charged with the smells of industry. Migrating and resident waterfowl and wading birds feed in sediment that is polluted with toxins. Streams flowing into the harbour and Cootes Paradise are contaminated with sewage.
However, we also know from Paul’s in Romans 8 that our sin had cosmic effects. Creation groans, subject to pain and frustration until that final day. We can see this in natural disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes that not only cause great loss of human life, but also much suffering to the rest of creation. In addition, I believe that we see this in certain organisms whose very existence and life cycle causes pain and suffering, including the tiny organisms that cause malaria.Because creation needs restoration, it wants renewal. It looks forward to release from that pain.
We feel the pain that creation feels as well. Our relationship as humans with the rest of creation is broken. We see how much the greed, selfishness, and carelessness of humans disrupts and destroys the rest of creation. Second, we struggle with the brokenness in human relationships, as we deal with tension within our marriages and families. Different sectors of society battle with each other for funding, for space, and for power. At the worst of times, nation wars against nation.
Worst of all, our relationship with God is broken. The Fall into sin broke us so badly that, no matter how hard we try, we are not able to keep His laws. We keep running against the boundaries that were made when He first put creation together. We are distant from God, not knowing how to serve Him or how to walk in the paths that He placed within creation.
But there is hope. When Christ comes into our lives, He brings renewal and restoration to all our relationships.
First, our relationship with God is restored and renewed. Faith in Christ brings His grace into our lives. The distance between us and God is removed. Through His Word and the guidance of the Spirit, as we grow in faith, we learn to love Him, follow Him, and walk in His ways. The paths that He laid out for us in creation become more clear. We begin to be able to walk in His ways.
Second, when Jesus’ kingdom enters our lives, we see a beginning of renewal of our relationships with our neighbours. We begin to see and appreciate them as His image bearers, worthy of our love and care. We desire what’s best for others, not just for ourselves, seeking their good, striving for justice in their lives.
Third, when the kingdom comes, it also begins to bring renewal and restoration of our relationship with the rest of creation. When we become part of Christ’s kingdom of reconciliation, we begin to appreciate creation as the unique artistry of the One who made it all. It is also the womb in which He gives us our physical nourishment, and the place where humanity lives and moves.
Christ’s entering our lives brings a lot of new beginnings. The work is slow, but the progress is sure. However, we will never see perfection on this side of glory. It is not until Christ’s final return that all things will be made new again. Creation will continue to groan, we will experience and cause pain, and we will not be able to live lives of wholeness until that Day.
Bird nest in cedar tree - J.Verbinnen
However, we do have reassurance that the Day will come. It’s called Easter! The great thing about the Resurrection, and the reason we celebrate it, its that it’s a sign of the new creation that will come to all things. Christ’s new body is a first fruit of the recreation that will come to all things (1 Corinthians 15:23). It’s a reassurance, a sign of what’s possible, a deposit, a promise of what will be for all creation.
This is what we celebrate at Easter! We rejoice in the reconciliation that Jesus Christ brought and will bring to all our relationships, bringing our praises along with the trees, singing with the mountains and hills (Isaiah 55:12).
This is good news. It’s good new for all of creation. So let’s do as Jesus asked and “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). It’s only in this gospel that reconciliation and recreation comes. It’s only in this gospel that creation has hope. Let’s rejoice in its impact on every part of creation!