“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A More Glorious Reality

Not just humans, but all creatures will see and rejoice in God more fully, and reflect his goodness, because humanity fell and was redeemed. And not just creatures, but all creation will display God’s glory more brightly.

“God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo. Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity would have been, more glorious than any unfallen race now is (if at this moment the night sky conceals any such). The greater the sin, the greater the mercy: the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth. And this super-added glory will, with true vicariousness, exalt all creatures and those who have never fallen will thus bless Adam’s fall.” – C. S. Lewis, Miracles, ch. 14

“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” – Isaiah 11:9
God’s Story will be complete, and with the new, resurrected creation, his design for reality will be brought full circle – creation will be more filled with the things of God than it could have been any other way. The original creation was good, but there is a greater good on the other side of suffering, a more beautiful and elegant simplicity on the “the other side of complexity.” 1 All the loose ends of the Story will be tied together, and existence itself will be more glorious. The beauty will be greater for having come out of ugliness, the victory complete for having fully faced evil, the revelation brighter because God rooted his Story more deeply in his character, and God more glorious to creation2 for having shown himself supreme and victorious over evil (what he is not).

Evil events are part of a much larger reality, much more vast and glorious than any human could possibly comprehend. This is not to say that evil is a small thing. Evil is an enormous reality, more horrible than any of us have experienced. But the great magnitude of evil only testifies to the even greater glory and perfection to which evil (a fleeting reality, and virtually nothing in comparison to the fullness of reality) contributes. The full extent of creation stretches to heights and depths immeasurable, beyond the comprehension of all but God himself. All things, all reality! Pause to think how indescribably great it could be – innumerable worlds and universes and dimensions of existence beyond our knowledge. And all this – all of it – was made for God’s glory and the joy his creatures. How great then must God be!

1 Lewis writes that evil is “the fuel or raw material for the second and more complex kind of good…In the fallen and partially redeemed universe we may distinguish (1) the simple good descending from God, (2) the simple evil produced by rebellious creatures, and (3) the exploitation of that evil by God for His redemptive purpose, which produces (4) the complex good to which accepted suffering and repented sin contribute.” – C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, chs. 6,7

2 Not in himself, but as he is revealed to creation. God himself is unchanging, and creation adds nothing to his glory. In C. S. Lewis’ words, an archangel adds no more to God’s glory and perfection than a grain of dust. God is so great, that in an act of ultimate creative self-expression, his character overflows into all reality. He creates – new things that are not God flow out of his being and into existence. That God has the power to create does not suggest any deficiency in his being (that he needs creation). Rather, that God’s power is so great that he brings things into existence points all the more to his total supremacy. But that God can redeem a fallen creation, I think, reveals his power in an even greater way.

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