God’s Plan B
As is well known, the Bible begins with Genesis 3, with The Fall. God therefore put his contingency plan into operation to rescue mankind. Jesus volunteered to die and we are saved.
From Creation to New Creation
The Bible begins with Genesis 1, with Creation, and that is where his mission, his plan of action begins. Genesis 3 did not thwart God’s mission; he wasn’t caught off guard, suddenly needing to look around for Plan B. God was in control when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, and he is still in control when Adam and Eve’s descendants continue to eat it. The Mission of God begins with Creation and goes right through to New Creation.
The Kingdom of Shalom
The mission of God is to bring about his kingdom of shalom – “just, peaceful, harmonious and enjoyable relationships with each other, ourselves, our environment and God” (Myers 2011, p. 175) – through the redemption and renewal of all creation (Wright, C. 2006, p. 312). He is at work to this end, and he calls those whom he has appointed stewards over the earth (Gen. 1.26) – those who remain faithful – to join with him in what he is doing, calling his followers to be with him, and to preach (the gospel as word), heal (the gospel as deed) and drive out demons (the gospel as sign) (Myers, 2011, p. 101).
The mission of God is not to restore things as they were pre-fall. That would suggest that God did not have a mission when he created the world, and that his mission came about as a contingency plan because of mankind’s sin. Rather, God created heaven (his own dwelling place) and earth (the dwelling place of humankind) as separate but connected entities (the current age), with a view to bringing them together in the age to come, as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2.14).
The waters that cover the sea
This is the framework of the mission of God. It is the source of hope as we work alongside God in the current age. That is why, at the end of a lengthy chapter where he discusses our future hope, Paul concludes by saying, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15.58) (Wright, N. T. 2007, pp. 168-169) The work we do with God in the current age is contributing to the age to come, just as the streams that flow in the desert become part of the waters that cover the sea.
Myers, B.L. (2011) Walking with the Poor, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
Wright, C.J.H. (2006) The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press.
Wright, N. T. (2007) Surprised by Hope. London: SPCK.