Gathering the Nations in the New Creation

Gathering the Nations in the New Creation September 10, 2013

Great Commission (以辱为荣)以辱为荣:Honored through Shame

Jesus overturns the world’s understanding of honor and shame. When people give their loyalty to Christ, they have died and are raised with him. They share in his honor and shame. Although not of the world, they are to live in it. In a sense, they become aliens and exiles within the world.

As the true image of God, Christ manifests the divine glory. As a man, he represents all humanity (being “the last Adam,” 1 Cor 15:45). As Abraham’s offspring, Jesus entered the world to fulfill Israel’s vocation and bless all nations. How?

Christ commissions his people to go into the world.  Some have called this the “Great Commission.” The Church proclaims to all that Jesus is the king who defeats evil, whether sin, social powers, demons, and death. The nations have betrayed the King of kings, colonizing his world. Yet, God offers pardon because Jesus has paid humanity’s debt.

In this way, Christ now gathers the nations to himself.

Vindicating God's Honor (雪耻复国 pict)雪耻复国:God Vindicates His Honor & Restores His Kingdom

He avenges humanity’s shameful rebellion and thus vindicates his honor. He fully establishes his kingdom in the world. When all nations recognize Christ as King, humanity is restored. In this way, humanity completes its original mission: to represent God in the world. Some have called this “the cultural mandate.”

This future hope is nothing less than a new creation. God will bring about a new heaven and new earth. When Jesus returns to the world, he will judge his enemies and glorify his people. They will receive resurrected bodies. Humanity will be reconciled with itself and with nature. For all eternity, the human family––“a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages”––will worship our Father and King.

The Picture Tells the Story

The lines that come out from the box not only represent the sequence of events following the cross; in addition, they represent humanity’s newfound freedom. However, this freedom is used for the sake of the world’s salvation. Christ’s followers seek to glorify God in the world. Their mission is not to escape the world. Hence, the lines loop back to the world.

Notice that a new world (represented by a partial circle) is beginning to form. In Christ, there is “new creation.” When God’s children are revealed from amid all the nations, only then will the creation be freed from its bondage to decay.

In the next post, I’ll offer summary thoughts to explain the how the entire picture fits together. The graphic is designed to visually reinforce the message conveyed orally.

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  • Thanks so much for your posts. I too have taught mission and biblical theology. currently I head up Porterbrook Training Africa.

    I have had a bit of experience working with the Chinese context as well… I have family through marriage who are leaders in some unregistered family churches in China.

    so your ministry, which I only came across about 4 weeks ago, has been helpful.

    in this last post shouldn’t this line be corrected?
    ‘Christ’s followers do not seek to glorify God in the world’.

    once again thanks


    • Thank you so much for your comment and for letting me know about the typo. I just fixed it.

      Regarding your past experience in a Chinese context, I suppose you are referring to Chinese in Africa? There are an increasing number of Chinese moving to Africa.

      Thanks again.

  • no, actually I am taking about China. I have family mostly In Guangxi, but also in Suzhou.

    yes, there are many Chinese all over the world today :-) including Africa. At the moment I am attending Chinese cultural workshops in my own town run by a non believing Chinese guy. it’s my attempt to enter and understand their lives a little more.

    By the way, I am busy doing some research on the so called Axial Age and am seeking to understand the Confucian world view and so on. I am very keen to use the wisdom literature and the pursuit of the sages as a connecting missional bridge in the telling of the ‘grand narrative’.

    Perhaps we can discuss this visa email if you have any thoughts?