The Big Picture – Act Three: Redemption
God in Christ is “reconciling” all things. He was and is bringing it all back to the way it is supposed to be. He redeemed, or got back, his creation and is putting it all back in place. How did he do this?
God paid the price to gain it all back. The holy God required the death penalty for the sin of humankind. And as the Bible tells us, he laid all of this sin upon Jesus (Isaiah 53:5-6). This paved the way for God to have it all back and return everything to its rightful order. This is what redemption does for each and every human who applies it to his or her life. This application of redemption is the process of growth itself. It is the returning of everything to its rightful, “righteous” place before God. This is why, in our view, to solve life’s problems and to grow spiritually are one and the same thing.
Let’s look at what the return to the rightful place looks like and what the path of how people grow will look like as well.
Return to the Source
In redemption, we come back to God as the source of life. We retreat from our independence from him and our attempt to be “self-made.” We see that to make life work, we must turn to the One who makes life work. As we “seek first the kingdom of God,” we see that all the things of life are “added unto us” (Matthew 6:33). God is the one who adds life.
Also we find that God is the source of healing and growth. How many self-improvement paths end up in despair until someone finds God? In redemption, we find that God will be the source of healing and growth if we will turn to him. True growth begins with realizing that we are “poor in spirit” and from this humble position reaching out to God and receiving all that he had for us (Matthew 5:3). When we realize that God is the source, we realize that we are impoverished, and this puts us into a position to receive from him.
So redemption helps us get to the end of our attempt to provide for ourselves. Instead, we turn to God for strength, truth, healing, care, correction, and a whole host of other things. But none of these are available to those who are still trying to provide them for themselves.
Return to Relationship
To return to the created order means to get back into relationship with God and with each other. As Jesus said, all of the commandments can be summed up in the two greatest commandments—loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:37-40). Everything in life depends on these two relationships.
Redemption puts us back into those two relationships. First, it reconciles us into a relationship with God through faith and forgiveness, re-establishing a connection. Second, redemption brings us back to the rightful restoration of connectedness with others as it stresses love, caring for one another, forgiving one another, teaching one another, etc. Without restoration of relationship with each other, we would still be in a state of alienation and not able to have the connections that provide the things we need to live and to grow. Redemption reverses our alienation and isolation from each other and gets us rightly reconnected.
Return to Order
Redemption is also a “surrender” to God as Lord. As Jesus said, the first and the greatest commandment is to love God first. It is the commandment that makes all the others work, for it is the one that ensures I am going to do it all his way. If I do it his way, life will be better. To reverse the Fall means to live under submission to him, thus reversing the rebellion against his rulership in my life. So, when I want to do destructive things, he tells me not to do them. Being redeemed, I listen and obey. Since this is difficult on my own power, redemption gives me two new sources of power to help me in this newfound obedience. I have God as a source of power, and I have others to support me. It is no longer just my sinful, rebellious nature and me. I have a new nature in me, one that is empowered by God to follow God and submit to him. I also have a body of people to help me to do that as well. For the first time since the Fall, I am in a position to obey God and submit to him.
Return to the Roles
In the Fall, we reversed the roles of humankind and God. We tried to fulfill his roles and then lost our ability to fulfill the ones we were created for. In redemption, we reconcile things to the way they were supposed to be.
- We become dependent and give up our independent stance before God and others.
- We give up trying to control things we cannot control and yield to and trust God’s control. Also, we regain control of what we were created to control in the first place—ourselves. We regain the fruit of “self-control.”
- We give up the role of playing judge with others and ourselves. So, by not being God, we are free to be who we truly are, and allow others to be who they truly are as well.
- We stop redesigning life and making new rules and instead, live the life God designed us to live.
What God does in redemption and in our growth is so simple. At the same time, it is complicated and profound. Often, we don’t even recognize these simple issues as they play out in our lives and relationships.
The questions we want to answer in our book How People Grow are: How does the fall of mankind cause our problems? And how does the redemptive process God set up cause us to grow and resolve life’s issues? Perhaps these are questions you’ve been asking. If so, you may be interested in getting a copy of How People Grow.
Taken from How People Grow, © Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend, Zondervan 2001
This article is part 4 in a series of Feature Articles adapted from How People Grow.
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