“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1-7) This is what God says to us at the end of time. Too often, though, we read it as “all new things”. There’s a big difference.
To believe that God will make “all new things” is to believe that ultimately, this present world of people and trees and quanta and minerals and ducks and water and light waves doesn’t matter, i.e. that matter doesn’t matter. It is to believe that God is essentially going to one day wipe out this present reality, and create a new one. In that case, salvation is about escaping this present reality and getting a ticket into that new reality.
However, that viewpoint is inconsistent with Scripture. It’s closer to what Plato believed (“matter is bad, spirit is good”) than to what the Christian scriptures teach. And it is anti-Christmas — it is anti-Incarnation. After all, if God Himself can become enfleshed in matter, and if redeemed humanity is now a part of the Trinity, then how can matter be bad?
“All things new” is the opposite. It is about God transforming (not wiping out) this present reality into something profoundly new. It is about God redeeming a broken Creation and shaping it into a New Creation. We are told that at the end of time heaven comes to earth — the Holy City descends onto the planet — and that the splendour and glory of the earth’s nations will be ushered into that Holy City (Revelation 21:22-26). This means that today you and I have the opportunity to co-create glory with God, which by definition is eternal (since God is present in it), and that it will all become a part of the “new” thing God is making.
I love being a part of the CBM family because we collectively believe that God is healing this broken world and that He uses local churches to do that. As we participate in God’s healing of our world, we are making things new, and one day God will finalise the process and usher what we have made into the Holy City.
Just before Christmas the CBM office had a special Chapel Service, in which we placed a map of the world on the floor and then one-by-one we each read a verse of Scripture that spoke of God’s light, and put a candle on a part of the map that we thought needed God’s light. It was a powerful experience to be in a dark room and to see the world slowly get filled with light (here’s a video that gives you an idea of how it felt). The world started out dark, but by the end it was full of light. Below is a picture of how it looked at the end. In this New Year, let’s celebrate the light coming into the darkness, and let’s participate in God’s work of making all things new!