07 December 1999

On Space and Time

 A Radical View of Redemption

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; the will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more, for the first things have passed away." — Revelation 21:1-4

You are space and time. You are space, because without the space that is you and around you, you would have no place to be. You are time, because without time, you could not linger where you are long enough to be at all.

I mention these obvious things, because most Christians seem to fantasize that they will experience death as at most a fainting away, after which they will be restored to conscious experience like an interrupted narrative — like awakening from sleep. Whatever is resurrected is whatever they have become by the end of their lives. That is a paltry sort of Resurrection, considering the lifetime of "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," which each of us endures and inflicts. What needs to be Redeemed is your entire lifetime, your whole story, not just you as you are at the moment of departing this world.

Now your story takes place on the vast stage of this Universe, set up (at great cost to you and every creature in it) for you to exercise radical freedom from God. Your freedom to become yourself comes at the cost of a world in which God seems absent, in which Nature is indifferent, and in which we can commit evil against ourselves, our fellow creatures, and God. In the imagery of Genesis, we are a fallen people living in a world that fell from Grace because of us. Indeed, your time needs to be Redeemed, but so does your space.

And so the wild and crazy promise of Christianity is that all of your time will be Redeemed, that every moment you ever lived, every wound you suffered and every wound you inflicted will be made whole — and that every place you ever were, all of your space, the entire cosmos, will be made anew, set up so that you may live in radical proximity to God! A new heaven and a new earth, for a new you, in a new relationship with the Creator of All. Your whole time and your whole space Redeemed. Can you believe it?