Jason Dees on God’s Narrative
A valuable way to think about life is to understand the idea of narrative. All around us there are competing narratives that say, “this will give you significance, this will give you worth, this will give you value.” So one of the reasons we are so committed to Bible study and to Christian community and to meditating on Scripture is to better understand God’s narrative for our lives. From the very beginning when God created the whole world, he created us within the context of this story, the story that would ultimately bring him glory and honor and praise. Our role in that story was simply to reflect and be an image of God. We are the images of God. He has given that to us so that when you look at our lives, the rhythms and patterns of our lives, something about the glory of God should be known and should be understood.
Think about the Garden of Eden. God put Adam and Eve in Eden, which was in the garden and was surrounded by the other dry lands. In Eden, where God, Adam, and Eve were, was the place where God’s glory was known and was reflected. The command he gave them was to fill the earth. He was saying, “I want you to take this glory you are experiencing right now in the garden and I want you to have children and I want you to develop. I want you to grow. I want this garden to grow and to flourish.” As we develop the garden and build culture, as we build cities, as we have children, the initial intent and the initial design was that the glory of God in the garden would spread throughout all of creation through our reflection as image bearers.
Of course all of that was lost with sin, but God gave His people hope that his glory could still be known, and in the Old Testament times that glory was manifested in a temple. Again you see the same pattern, the presence of God was in the most holy place in the Holy of Holies in the temple, which was surrounded by the Holy Place, which was surrounded by the outer courts and the rest of the temple. This is the same kind of picture and pattern as Eden. The hope that we have now in Christ is that our relationship with God has been restored and our union with the rhythms and patterns of God has been restored in Jesus by his righteousness and by his death. The work of the cross is that we will one day be called into a whole world that will be filled with the glory of God.
When you look at the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation, what do you see? You see the dimensions of the city being a perfect cube, which is meant to trigger in our minds a picture of the Holy of Holies in the temple, which also had dimensions of a perfect cube. The whole earth in that day, the whole city where the image bearers of God are living and moving and having relationships with one another, will all be reflecting the glory of God. That is the narrative. That is the story that you were designed for and that Christ, in His grace, calls you back into.
Dr. Jason Dees is the Senior Pastor of Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and guest instructor at the Kanakuk Institute.