Trinity and the Renewal of All Things
Re – new – al :: “The replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.”
I was 13 years old, a freshman in high school, and was forced by my football coach to run the 100m, 200m, 400m and cross country to improve my speed and stamina as a part of the track team. As an offensive tackle, this seemed ludicrous to me. And though I seemed out of place at every track meet, the distance between me and the next to last athlete lessened over time.
I’ve never really enjoyed running. It was laborious, exhausting, and in the hot Texas sun, downright demoralizing. However, this particular day was different. My teammates and I arrived at cross country practice, warmed up, and began to run. I – was – fast. And I could run, and run, and run, and run. It was as if I’d broken through some sort of invisible barrier. It was unexpected, exhilarating.
Fast forward 30 years (almost 3 years ago). I’d developed a routine of running a 5k every morning at the gym. Besides being pure torture, it’s actually been a healthy way to deal with stress, maintain a measure of fitness, and digest scripture. However, this day was different.
I woke up, turned off my alarm, and couldn’t get out of bed. It felt as if my entire body was pinned to the mattress by invisible weights. I eventually fell out of bed, put my hand on the nightstand and pulled myself up. As I trudged across the floor, I began to realize that making it to the gym would be impossible. I couldn’t even walk up and down our stairs without being absolutely exhausted.
My body has simply stopped functioning properly. I – was – utterly – broken. It’s been three years of slow, steady progress living one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. However, I’m still broken, nowhere near what my capacity was 3 years ago.
It’s during this time that I’ve gained a deepening appreciation for Christ’s words in Matthew 19:28a, “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed…’” which finds its fulfillment in Revelation 21:5, “And the one seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new!’ Then he said to me, ‘Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.’”
I long for a restored, renewed body to be experienced in a restored, renewed world. And throughout our culture we see hints, intimations of our longing for renewal: taking that which is broken and re-creating something beautiful, useful, whole. Cities in our country have instituted recycling programs, composting has become increasingly mainstream, energy companies are promoting renewable energy, people pay a premium for hand-made furniture made from reclaimed wood, etc. This reeks of the image of God and points to something bigger, better, and more complete.
And because we’re being recreated in the image of Christ, we too have a Spirit-imparted longing to participate in this renewal, to see things restored to wholeness. When this happens, the kingdom breaks in through and all around us as systems and structures are reformed, injustice is dispelled, and people hear the good news about an altogether different kingdom with an altogether different King who makes all things new.
May we not be disheartened by the pain, suffering, and injustice in this world, but live as a sign, foretaste, and instrument of the already but not yet kingdom that gives the world a taste of the comprehensive renewal to come.