Posted by: New in Every Way | October 25, 2013

A Whole New World

I am not surprised to see that various websites feature John Ortberg quotes. He has a way with words. My personal favorite is not taken from one of his books–it is a story I heard him tell from the pulpit of Willow Creek Community Church, which I attend when I visit my brother and sister-in-law in the Chicago area.

The Sunday I heard Ortberg he was visiting from California, where he now pastors. When Ortberg moved to California and told folks he was from Illinois, none of them seemed impressed. Finally, he asked someone about that. The man said, “I have promised myself that I will never live in a place where–if I lock myself out of my house–I could die.”

Well, true! Illinois winters, especially in the Chicago area, are brutal compared to California’s. (But too tame for a couple of my friends who grew up in Wisconsin and northern Michigan.)

Can you imagine what the Ortberg’s first fall and winter in California was like? They did not have to drag out their flannel-lined pants or snow boots. They couldn’t have bought snow shovels and sidewalk de-icer, if they had wanted to (unless they visited a mountain community).  They were in a whole new world.

SunriseThat’s what happened 2000+ years ago when Jesus arrived on planet Earth. He transformed the world–for those who received him then and those who receive him now.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:7).

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:1, 5-7).

Notice, Jesus didn’t command them to preach, “Salvation is at hand.” He told them to say, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And which aspects of the kingdom of heaven did he instruct them to practice? Healing, raising the dead, and casting out demons.

Previously, Jesus had demonstrated another facet of his kingdom.

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 NIV).

Now, these few scriptures may not be proof enough of what I am going to say next. Check out the Bible for yourself and see whether it really does say this:

Jesus came to earth to save his whole creation from the effects of the Fall.

  • He came to save our souls from sin and eternal separation from God.
  • He came to save our bodies from sickness and degeneration.
  • He came to restore the natural world to be a safe home instead of a sometimes-hostile environment.

Ok, if he came to do all these things, why is it that only the first one has manifested in any widespread fashion? Here’s a clue:

19 For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. . .  

21 [so] that nature (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption [and gain an entrance] into the glorious freedom of God’s children (Romans 8:19-21 AMP).

A lot depends on us–the stewards he has appointed for this earth. When Adam and Eve (whom God had placed in charge of this earth) fell out of fellowship with God, all of creation began a downward spiral. Now that Jesus paid the redemption price for us, we are set free from that cursed state, and–if we accept our assignment–we can be channels through whom God can restore the earth to the blessedness of the Garden of Eden.

Want some examples of how this works? Tune in next week . . .

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