Message by Sam Grimshaw
Life Group Discussion Study by Julian Ham
Stephen Covey wrote that “all things are created twice”— the first creation is mental, and the second is physical. This was to support the big idea of starting with the end in mind. It’s a lesson that can certainly inform our creativity. But what about the “end” that God is building? When you think about Heaven or eternity, what comes to mind? Clouds? Angels in white robes? Harps? It’s interesting that much of human creativity, from Renaissance art up to modern culture, seems to portray God’s eternity as a pure and spotless place radiating with angelic worship, but not much else. Does your view of Heaven seem exciting? Or is it perhaps, dare I say, a little bit sterile? Let’s look at what the Bible says about God’s “finale”.Read Revelation 21-22:5
The day will come when God casts aside anything which does not honour Him, and He will bring complete restoration and renewal to His creation. This tells us that God’s new creation is not a blank canvas. All will be refined and without sin, but the earths best will become the starting point for the new earth. Scripture tells us that, at a minimum, there will be cities, gates, rivers, houses, food, vineyards, fruit, roads, and music on the new earth. In short, there will be culture, the product of both God’s and our creations. This is a far more exciting picture of eternity than life amongst the clouds. It’s certainly compelling to think that what we create now might contribute to God’s eternity. While God alone is the one who builds His kingdom, all of us have the opportunity to create for the kingdom, laying our work down at the feet of God, who might choose to take our raw materials and work them into his final creation. If the end of God’s story has already been written, God is inviting us to write the second-to-last chapter with Him — to be agents of that new creation here and now.
The imaginative work we do now can participate in God’s renewal of all things and become markers that point towards eternity. If the new earth is a place of radiant beauty, where there is fullness of life, and every tear is wiped away, we are called to create in ways that provide glimpses of this to the world today. Wherever we sense a yearning for justice and love, we should devote ourselves, as persons of faith, to unfurling glimpses of beauty, justice, and love in our world by the means most appropriate to our circumstances, gifts, abilities, and desires. We are called to announce and demonstrate the universal rule and reign of Christ and create foretastes of God’s kingdom here on earth. But the world today requires more than good arguments. They need an aesthetic sense, an imaginative vision, a poetic embodiment of Christianity. Whatever creative work we do in the present — by painting, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving our neighbour as ourselves — can become building for God’s kingdom. They all present fresh opportunities to announce the reign of God and draw others into His eternal plan.Discussion Questions
1. What has been your impression of eternity with God?
2. What is a simple way to experience a foretaste of what Revelation 21-22 describes?
3. Think of a situation in your life right now that you know is broken or not right. What might restoration in that situation look like?
4. List some of the skills and abilities you have (writing them out can help you see just how much you have). How could you use one of your abilities to bring restoration?
5. Spend some time imagining ways that you could announce or demonstrate the kingdom of God to the world around you.Prayer
Lord, thank You for the amazing hope we have in You and for the incredible destiny that lays ahead. Help us to discover new ways that we can build for Your kingdom. Where there is unbelief and brokenness in the world around us, help us find creative ways to announce Your universal reign and participate in the restoration of all things, just as Jesus did. Let your kingdom come, and Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.