How often have you compared yourself to where you used to be? How fit you were in high school, or how free spirited you were in college?
We are often caught looking into the past, and as Christians we have this idea that the Garden of Eden was the “be all, end all” of perfect living. That we should return to a time where everything was perfect.
Rather than looking back and sighing about how great the past was, Hugh Whelchel says to instead look forward.
“This is the way things were supposed to be. I find some Christians say that we need to go back to the garden right? But we were never intended to venture live forever in a garden. God’s purpose for man was to start in the garden, but we were meant to end up in a city; The city of God.”
“Particularly if you look at some of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation, we read the end of the story. We realize it is the last chapter and that last chapter of restoration where Jesus is going to come back, finish the work He started at the cross, and He is going to restore all things going make everything new.”
“That’s interesting because He’s not going to make it back the way it was in the garden, it’s going to be better than it was in the garden. We think ‘how can anything be better than it was in the garden?’”
From what we know, the Garden of Eden was nearly perfect. Food was plentiful, the world was beautiful, and the relationship between God and man was as strong as could be. So how could something be better than what is already perfect? Hugh uses an illustration from his own life to explain this tension.
“I restore old cars for a hobby, I’m not really good at it but I know guys who are really good at it. These guys do incredible work, and they really don’t do it for the money because they put so much time in restoring these cars. They do it typically because they love the cars. When they’re done, the car is better than it was when it rolled off the assembly line brand new. You think ‘how can it be better than brand new?’ The paint is better. The engines built a little better, the upholstery is a little better and it’s better because they love the car so much.”
“God loves His creation so much that when Jesus Christ comes back in a second coming, He will judge the world, but then He’ll usher in a new heaven and new earth and it’s not going to be brand new but it’s going to be restored better than it was new. That is where we’ll live for eternity with Him. I think we shortchange ourselves by not understanding that that’s our eventual future and in a sense we’re preparing for that with the work we do in this present age.”
We need to stop looking back at The Fall in the context of “what could have been,” because we have been promised so much more. There is a time where Jesus Christ will restore this world to not only what it once was, but something so incredible it will go beyond what we know to be good.
Hugh Whelchel is the executive director at the Institute of Faith, Work, and Economics.Hugh Whelchel - God will restore, even better than before