My 5 year old daughter Ruby is picking up on a lot of things. Recently we were driving home from a friends’ house, when from the back seat we heard her proclaim, “Dad! I know when God’s going to make New Creation!” I smiled, simply for the fact that my 5 year old knows there’s something to look forward to besides Heaven. But then I was curious, after all – God seems to favor using children to proclaim important/new things. So I asked her, “When?”
“At the end of this age!”
Wow. In a few moments, my daughter was speaking of things I hadn’t really grasped until reading NT Wright talk about the concept of ” αἰώνιος“ Eyes wide, I turned to my wife who was almost as surprised as I was. Her face quickly changed, however, and she simply said, “What did you expect? She hears you talking about it all the time.” with a loving smile on her face.
Whaddya’ know? Parenting works.
There followed a short conversation, where I excitedly tried to explain to our daughters how Ruby was right, although New Creation had already started too! To which Ruby responded with something between anxiety and confusion, “But daddy, I thought the dead people would come alive?” Calmly I tried to explain as best as I could that scripture tells us that anyone who has accepted Jesus as their source of life, is already a part of the New Creation yet to come. It’s hard for me to grasp, so I can only imagine how many more conversations we’ll have as she grows.
Nevertheless, it was a great reminder that we easily learn all the right words to say. Whether it’s a 5 year old talking about New Creation, or a 40 year old praying at the altar on Sunday morning, we learn the vocabulary and use it. Influenced and flavored by prayers we’ve grown up with, worship songs we’ve sung, and the theology we prefer, we bring our prayers to God – often already knowing what the exchange will look like. Already aware of the CONTENT we will present to God, and the CONTENT He will give in return.
Because whether we’ve developed self-control over how we interact with it or not, we all exist in a world where CONTENT floods our lives. In the form of Tweets, Instagrams, Headlines, Blogposts, Facebook Posts, and more, we have become a never-ending culture of creating/consuming CONTENT. It hits us head-on when we wake up, and the waves continue lapping the shores of our devices well into the hours we should be sleeping. That influences our children and their development, but also impacts our lives, how we relate to each other, our family friends, and even God.
But we’re reminded by the story in Matthew 22:15-22 that Jesus sees beyond our words and actions. We may fool other people. We may even fool ourselves. But Jesus knows our hearts. The Pharisees came trying to trap Him with their fancy words, and question aimed at accomplishing what they wanted. Jesus calmly responds with a question, and directs them to yield themselves to God fully. Just as the coin stamped with the image of Caesar belongs to Caesar, so a man/woman who has been created in the image of God belongs to God.
We are both challenged by this, and encouraged. We are challenged as we realize God is not impressed or distracted by the “#self” we present to the world. We cannot show Him our polished areas, and hold back the things we’d rather not yield. God calls us to give ourselves completely, proclaiming by such submission – Jesus is Lord even now!! (and we are His New Creation!) And therein lies the encouragement. Submission to God opens up an existence as His New Creation, and serving a Lord who knows us intimately. Todays’ “Insta-Tweet-Booked” existence can be lonely and consuming. Smashing through such an existence is a God who knows us well beyond the images and 140 characters we share with others – and proclaims His overwhelming Love for us…
..and sends us out to do the same for a world that so deeply needs to be known…and Loved. 🙂