Transformative Christianity (Pt 3): The Bridge to Eden
We come to the climax of this sermon series. We’ve discussed who we are – created in God’s divine image. We’ve discussed how this divine image is covered over with the baggage of our humanness. Now we turn to the one who removes that baggage and returns us to our original state as God’s divine image. We turn to the one who finds us east of Eden, gathers us, shepherds us, and lays down his life to be a bridge back to Eden.
For each individual in that stream of people, Christ is their personal bridge to God, a bridge to the garden of their hearts, a bridge to a relationship with God, a bridge back to our original nature, our divine image.
Christ through his work on the cross removes the baggage covering that divine image, allowing us to begin again. We can say Jesus wipes the slate clean, getting us back to square one where we are at-one with God. Christ and the Cross at-ones us, atones us. Christ returns us to Eden and to the intimate relationship with God that Adam and Eve had.
But there is a collective level to all of this.
That stream of people on the bridge called Christ, that stream of people, well, that would be the church!
If you’ve personally internalized and affirm the Christian faith, you are part of the Eden-bound people called the church.
And you are on the bridge!
Sure, you can choose not to be involved in the church, the community walking with you. But how sad this would be! How lonely! Walking with a community beside you but remaining aloof and alone, that is a sorrowful existence, I’d say.
If you’re a Christian, you are a member of the Christian community. Christ purchased your membership fee. Whether you make the most of that membership, well, that is up to you. As a pastor, of course, I hope you will make the most of it.
Here’s something else to think about. A bridge as a function means moving from one side to the next!
A bridge never taken, never used, well, is it really a bridge?
Christ without the church, well, is like a bridge without people crossing it. Christ works through the church!
Imagine the Golden Gate Bridge was simply there to look at, not to take. It would not be serving its original purpose. Christ, the bridge, needs us!
Christ needs us to take that bridge and be the church, to be his body, the body of Christ, progressing forward.
But it goes even further.
Remember last week, we talked about a disturbance in the force that came as a result of an unwise choice made by the first humans, representing humanity as a whole. Adam and Eve’s act of selfishness had immense ramifications. Their choosing of self and disregarding of God gave way to a huge imbalance in Creation. This is what the Christian church has traditionally taught.
Maybe you’re thinking, this makes no sense. How can taking a bite out of fruit lead to all of this?
Well, have you ever heard the name Vasili Arkhipov? No? Well, Arkhipov has been called “the man who saved the world.” Here’s a description from the Farrnham Street blog.
“Arkipov was a Russian Naval officer in 1963, stationed on a nuclear-armed submarine near Cuba. In November of that year, American aircraft and ships began using depth charges to signal the Russian submarine that it should surface so it could be identified. With the submarine submerged too deep to monitor radio signals, the crew had no idea what was going on in the world above. The captain, Savitsky, decided the signal meant that war had broken out and he prepared to launch a nuclear torpedo. Everyone agreed with him—except Arkhipov. Had the torpedo launched, nuclear clouds would have hit Moscow, London, East Anglia and Germany, before wiping out half of the British population. The result could have been a worldwide nuclear holocaust, as countries retaliated and the conflict spread. Yet within an overheated underwater room, Arkhipov exercised his veto power and prevented a launch. Without the courage of one man, our world could be unimaginably different.”
The notion of one small act having immense impact, it is known as the Butterfly Effect. And we see it throughout history and even in our own lives. Adam and Eve are the original example of this truth.
Adam and Eve’s small act of eating that fruit, selfishly disobeying God, is a microcosm of all of Creation being marred by human selfishness.
Enter Christ. Christ and his utter selflessness on the Cross reverses the trend, turns the tide back, restores balance to Creation.
Not only that, Christ’s selflessness will eventually end in the restoration of all of Creation in God. Eden is the end-game, and the compassion of Christ is getting us there!
Anyone who’s attended church for a bit of time knows that the word gospel literally means good news. This good news – we often shrink it to mean just for us. It becomes my good news, my story of personal redemption. Jesus redeemed me and set me free.
But the good news is not just for us as individuals. It’s just for us as a human species. No, the good news is for all the world. For God so loved, what? The world. It is not just peace in our neighborhoods or among just people. It is peace on earth! “The wolf shall live with the lamb; the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the lion will feed together, and a little child shall lead them.”
Christ and his compassion on the cross – it is the pivot point for Creation and for all of Creation’s return to God. Acts 3 talks about the restoration of all things through Christ. The restoration of all things – that is the good news we preach, friends. And can you get any better than that?
The simple takeaway is this – share that good news! With your deeds and if you have to with your words. Be the living words of God in real-time, being the bridge for others to the Bridge that is Christ.
May our community waking that bridge together be ever full and growing!