While in India with our Partners from the South Asia region, I found myself on fire anew for the redemptive work of God in the world.
Indeed, the Partners Worldwide vision is God’s vision from the beginning of time: I have come so that all may have life and have it abundantly. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. In the first creation, Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit—the Community of God—danced and fluttered upon the deep and spoke creation into being.
God’s greatest entrepreneurial act in history had one purpose—to bring heaven to earth. Each day of creation, God speaks “holy energy and sound”, upon which another part of creation is fulfilled. Each day, God reflects on what is and declares it is good. God also creates the ongoing process of creation—he doesn’t need to recreate elephants or baobab trees—the miracle and abundance of the first creation are ongoing every day!
Then something more intimate and miraculous happens. God doesn’t just speak the final act of creation, no, he gets in the rich soil and gently forms and molds an image. And then, with a holy woosh of air, love, and energy, flesh and blood and bones hold the soul of God—the first image bearer! On this day, God looks at everything and says it is very good.
Yet, not quite good enough. Something is still missing, and in the conversation of the first entrepreneurial team (I’m referring to Father, Son, Spirit), they agree that we must create a partner for this man because it's not good for him to be alone. And from the rib of that man, God creates woman. Now it really is very good! (I'm sure Adam agrees.)
Everything is perfect and complete, the first creation of SHALOM. The divine community of God is whole, creation is complete, and the first human beings are in the right relationship with each other, with God, and with all of creation.
All religion is the pursuit of understanding God, and being in right relationship with the Divine, with the earth, and fellow human beings and with yourself. But almost all religions, including Christianity, miss this original “Blessing”, the original shalom, the original purpose of God—to partner with us in fulfilling his dream for all of creation.
In my first 22 years of life, I was steeped deeply in the Reformed faith of TULIP, and the original sin of Calvinism: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints.
Then I went into the world, and over the past 45 years, I continue to be reformed and transformed through the renewing of my mind; in relationship with all God’s image bearers in 65 countries that I have been privileged to meet to date—all friends and neighbors and partners I must add.
Indeed, I used to think God had a Plan A, and then when we messed up, he went to Plan B, but now I realize it was always Plan C—Jesus Christ. Not only did God create the world and all the image bearers of the Divine in Love, but it was also always the plan to come and join us in the flesh, so that we can be better partners with God.
God knows exactly what it is like to be human. Jesus of the oppressed, despised and rejected of men, beaten and battered, performing the ultimate sacrifice of Redemption, to restore and fulfill God’s purposes in creation, through whom all things were made! And in whom all things are being restored and created anew!
It’s almost as if, we cannot truly know the glorious love of God, the glory of creation, the glory of our fellow 7.6 billion neighbors, every single one with a unique DNA and blueprint of Almighty God, without the pain, suffering and death that is part of the redemption of our human existence.
God took care of the death of sin in the first Garden of Eden and becomes the seed of the New Creation in the New Garden of Gethsemane. It is so incredibly liberating to know and love and serve a God like this!
The Apostle Paul says in Colossians that God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, by making peace through his blood, his redemptive sacrifice on the cross, to reconcile all things. All things in the heavens, and on earth. All things.
So just how is God going to reconcile all things? The same way he started! In creation, in the NEW CREATION!
I hope I’ve given you plenty to think about and reflect on regarding this business of redemption. When you’re ready for more, read Part 2, which highlights people in our partner network embodying redemptive business.