The mission of God in Christ is to reconcile all things back to himself. According to Colossians 1:15-20, Jesus Christ is the creator (v. 16) and sustainer (v. 17), of “all things” (τὰ πάντα), and God’s purpose is to “reconcile all things”(ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα) to himself by making peace through the atoning work of Christ on the cross.
God’s desire to reconcile to himself “all things” is larger in scope than simply individual salvation for human beings.
The scope of Creation was “all things;” the scope of the Fall was “all things,” and the scope of redemption, therefore, is “all things.” God’s mission, then, is the redemption of his entire creation.
As N.T. Wright says, “To put it bluntly, creation is to be redeemed; that is, space is to be redeemed, time is to be redeemed, and matter is to be redeemed.”
The purpose of redemption is not simply to usher human souls off to some heavenly non-corporeal existence for all eternity; it is to restore that which God had deemed “very good” in Genesis 1.
We must be clear in our definition of the “creation” that God so treasures that he is reconciling it back to himself.
It is certainly the natural creation, but it is also much more. In the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2, we learn that the pinnacle of God’s creative work was creating humans in the divine image. Then he rested from his labor, expecting the creative work to continue in those that carry that divine image. The human race was commanded to rule, fill and subdue the creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
Albert M. Wolters, in his essential book, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (available from Reintegrate partner, Hearts & Minds) writes,
“Mankind, as God’s representatives on earth, carry on where God has left off. But this is now to be a human development of the earth…From now on the development of the created earth will be societal and cultural in nature. In a single word, the task ahead is civilization.” (p. 41-42)
The scope of “creation,” then, includes the natural created order that God originally made, but it is broader than that. It also includes that which God had predetermined human beings to fashion as an extension of his creativity. All structures of society and culture must also be included in what we call “creation.”
“Creation is not something that, once made, remains a static quantity…The given reality of the created order is such that it is possible to have schools and industry, printing and rocketry, needlepoint and chess…We are called to participate in the ongoing creational work of God, to be God’s helper in executing to the end the blueprint for his masterpiece.” (Wolters, p. 44)