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A better story | A new heaven and new earth

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

‘The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.’

REVELATION 11:15

 


 

On 27 July 2011, John Stott, a global church leader and one of LICC’s founders, died peacefully, listening to the Scriptures and Handel’s Messiah.

I do not know what part of the oratorio was being played at the time, but I like to think it was the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus which the choir proclaims that, ‘The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’

In this part of the Messiah, based as it is on the book of Revelation, there is a vision of a new heaven and new earth, where everything is brought under the sovereign and saving rule of God and his anointed king. In this renewed creation, there is no more death, mourning, crying, nor pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Heaven is not the end of the world. The resurrection of Jesus is the first fruits of our own; at his coming, those who belong to Christ will be raised as he has been raised. But it’s not just our bodies that will rise. It’s creation itself. Our future hope is in new creation – not a return to the garden in Eden but a creative advance to a garden city.

How, then, should we live in the present, anticipating this future reality?

First, we are people of hope. In the words of Peter in his first letter, God has given us ‘new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3). The word ‘hope’ is such a weak one in the English language. We ‘hope’ that it won’t rain or that our train will come in on time, but that’s not the living hope that Peter has in mind. The Christian hope is a steadfast and unshakeable hope. In a world where there is such hopelessness, we are called to embody this hope – every day, in our words and actions, in our neighbourhoods and workplaces.

Second, our actions in the present echo into the future. If the universe’s destiny is not extinction but cosmic renewal (Matthew 19:28–29), our efforts – working, building and creating – align with, rather than oppose, its ultimate purpose. We are tasked to actively participate in God’s big project, the reconciliation and renewal of all things. And this calling should transform our perspective on work from a means to an end to an integral part of God’s new world.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Paul Woolley
CEO, LICC

In your everyday life, especially your work, what does it look like for you to hope-fully participate in the renewal of all things? Join the conversation below.

The Whole Life Podcast

How do we connect the Christian story to stuff that’s not in the Bible, like stand-up comedy, today’s politics, and AI? To find out, listen to LICC’s brand new series, The Whole Life Podcast, hosted by Paul Woolley and Grace Fielding. Together with guests like Pete Greig, Paula Gooder, and Makoto and Haejin Shim Fujimura, they discuss how the Christian faith really does speak to every part of life – and what that means for us.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this post, particularly the difference between the “worlds meaning of hope” and the biblical meaning
    Hope is a person – Jesus the Christ

    By Sarah Hunter  -  22 Jan 2024
  2. Huge motivation for the whole business of creation care.

    By Hugh  -  22 Jan 2024

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