The Lord’s saving work is cosmic in scale. Creation’s lapsed caretakers crucified Christ, but the rocks nearly came alive when God incarnate came near. When people were irritated at the loud praise crowds were giving Him, Jesus said, “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40). Jesus says He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5), and He begins by making us new. Peter calls us “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5), and Paul calls us “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17), personified previews of the perfection to come. Paul again: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). Our lives as the new humanity herald the world’s coming wholeness. As a new creation, our words, thoughts, and deeds have special cosmic significance.
My daughter’s cries can crack windows in distant places, but when she smiles, it’s like the whole world has been healed. I know I’m biased in my perception of her powers, but there really is something to it. The joy of an image bearer living like an image bearer does help make the world whole. As Christians, we have a view of the world and our work within it that ought to be simultaneously the most sober and the most ecstatic. Sober because of the sin that continues to hurt it and ecstatic because it is our Father’s world, awaiting summation and perfection in His risen Son.
Christ’s world-saving grace deepens and details our Edenic craving for cosmic wholeness. Whenever we sense its semblance or mourn its absence, faith in Christ follows the heart of our heavenly Father in loving His world more fully.
Dostoevsky pictures this pattern in Alyosha, one of the famous Brothers Karamazov. Alyosha’s mentor, Father Zosima, taught him to see all people as responsible for one another’s well-being and all creation as beautifully, inextricably interwoven. After Zosima’s death, Alyosha in his monastery is suddenly and profoundly aware of God’s presence. He steps outside and is overcome by the majestic interconnectedness of the created order.
The vault of heaven, full of soft, shining stars, stretched vast and fathomless above him. . . . The gorgeous autumn flowers in the beds round the house were slumbering till morning. The silence of the earth seemed to melt into the silence of the heavens. . . . Alyosha stood, gazed, and suddenly threw himself down on the earth . . . he kissed it weeping, sobbing, and watering it with his tears and vowed passionately to love it, to love it forever and ever . . . he was not ashamed of that ecstasy. . . . But with every instant he felt clearly and, as it were, tangibly, that something firm and unshakable as that vault of heaven had entered into his soul.
As new creations, let us take this world very personally. Love it. Know in every scarlet sunset and every ocean breeze the love and fellowship of our heavenly Father. Mourn with every life-taking storm the consequences of our fall. Rejoice as every moment draws us nearer to the new heavens and earth in which unbreakable righteousness dwells unendingly (2 Peter 3).
And every once in a while, may we let out a childlike yell in the visceral joy of being alive in this, our Father’s world of unfathomable interrelationships.