“The new creation is not a different creation. It is the new creation of this deranged world. Eternal life is not a different life. It is the resurrection of this life into the life of God. . . . So the kingdom of God means that this world will be different and will be born anew out of violence and injustice to justice, righteousness and peace.”[i] Jürgen Moltmann
After months of wind, rain, and snow, Easter Sunday was a glorious spring day, with greenery and flowers springing up all around. This Lenten blog series “Creation, Cross, and the Powers,” culminates today with me addressing the challenging question: How is the resurrection of Jesus relevant today, as we witness the deadly impacts of the domination system on our human family and the community of life? To answer this, I point to the following passage:
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17–18). The passage makes clear that the scope of reconciliation in “[the risen] Christ” extends beyond God and the individual to all creation.
The concept of new creation has been used to illustrate a hopeful vision of renewal that may motivate people to take seriously our call to care for the earth. One way that Christians have interpreted this concept is to relate it to the afterlife, as an assurance that no matter how bad things get here on earth, no matter how many ecosystems are destroyed or how many species go extinct, God will ultimately reconstitute creation in a renewed and even better way. But such ideas bring little comfort to those of us who love life here on earth as we witness the escalating speed and efficiency of the institutional engines of death that are destroying it.
Of course, the promise of resurrection and creation’s renewal at the end of time offers us freedom from the fear of death and fosters courage to face life’s challenges. But the biblical concept of new creation does not just symbolize hope that at the end of the world, God will reconstitute it in a new form. As Moltmann said, it symbolizes hope “that this world will be different.”
It is also an invitation to live in light of the resurrection now. Living in the Spirit of the risen Christ enables us to recognize the glory of God in creation, to live in reconciled relationships, to comfort those who suffer, to stand in solidarity against oppressive powers, to allow the love that we have received to flow through us, to acknowledge that all creation exists within the circle of God’s care, and to take actions that embody hope for the future and are proportional to the challenges we face—in short: to live into the reality of the new creation.
As extinctions become more numerous, climate change accelerates, and the powers assert themselves in ever more ecologically destructive ways, the biblical concept of new creation illustrates a spiritual reality that can be experienced and lived into. As followers of Jesus, we are already part of the new creation here and now, as is made clear in the text above. We are already part of a new creation because we are in Christ.
As reconciled people who are empowered as participants in God’s saving work in our time, we are called to reach out with the message of reconciliation not only for individuals but for creation as well. This path is costly. Carrying the message of reconciliation must include challenging dehumanizing institutional idols that are undoing creation, and working for systemic change in ways that enable people to flourish. In this process, we are given a new orientation toward life and courage to rise even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds.
God rejoices with us when we rejoice, weeps with us when we weep, showers both the just and unjust with all the blessings of creation and calls us to embody love in this world. Jesus did just that. Those of us who follow him are called to do so fully and completely, renouncing fear and paralysis, living in the power of the Spirit of the risen Christ, rising in courage, and heading straight into the heart of the struggle for a transformed world.
Parts of this post were excepted from “Creation Crucified: The Passion of the Earth,” the fourth chapter of The Cross in the Midst of Creation, Sharon Delgado (Fortress Press, 2022).
This is the tenth post in a Lenten Series, “Creation, Cross, and The Powers.”
- Creation, Cross, and The Powers.
- Extraordinary Temptations
- The Spirituality of an Epoch
- Creation: Moving from Awe to Lament to Resistance
- Banking on Our Future as Demythologized Exorcism
- Don’t Look Up
- Care Enough to Weep
- The Death of Jesus in Context
- Resurrection and New Creation
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[i] Jürgen Moltmann, Jesus Christ for Today’s World (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 22–23