At New Creations Inn, we like to summarize the gospel narrative into four acts which we find played out both in the scriptures and in our clients’ lives: Creation, Estrangement, Reconciliation, and New Creation. This formed the agenda for the 10 year anniversary conference which was called, Lessons at the Inn. Ultimately, the lesson from New Creations Inn, isn’t how to provide housing, or how to help people be better citizens. This is THE supremely good and glorious lesson:
Act I : God created everything. Human minds are too finite to understand the gravity of those three words.
God walked with Adam and Eve – Creator in personal relationship with His creation. He didn’t create them as slaves but as rulers that could reign with Him and like Him. This relationship was intimate and they were vulnerably naked and unashamed. God provided for all of their needs. Provision wasn’t focused on the goodness of the gift (although it was good) but rather on the generosity and goodness of the One who walked with them and bid them to taste of his goodness. In the beginning, God determined what was good; He was the only judge and definer of what was good.
Act II: People estrange themselves from God and the kingdom of heaven is separated from the kingdom of this earth.
People become estranged from each other; they even possess a new narcissism and antipathy for themselves. Even the earth is no longer collaborating with their efforts! These realities are painfully obvious in Genesis chapter 3 but the relational animosity should be even more obvious in our own lives. On our best days, we make gods out of our stuff, finances, country, status, and loved ones. We fight for our autonomy. I want the right to define what is good and what is best for me and I want the right to execute my plan. Instead of reigning with God and like God, we try to take control of our world and fashion it to ourselves. We are determined to find a ‘good’ outside of the One who is good. The consequences are catastrophic.
Act III: When people’s bent for autonomy and delight in idolatry and estrangement might be as unpromising as ever, God intervenes.
He makes a way for reconciliation. He does not ‘fix’ us like a mechanic would fix a car, nor does this reconciliation return us to how we once were, as if no damage had ever happened. Nor does God achieve peace by imposing Himself on people forcefully, nor does He use power or violence to return normality to the relationship. The only weapon God uses to bring reconciliation is self-sacrificial love seen in the person of Jesus. The cross is the turning point in human history. We can have our brokenness healed and our estrangement reconciled. God makes us new creations with a new life and identity in Him.
Act IV: God’s reconciled people long for the day of Christ’s return that they may be made complete and perfect in him.
However for now we live with the consequences of our own rebellion and other people’s rebellion (both systematic and personal). As citizens of the kingdom of God we live in another country: the kingdom of this world, which is the kingdom of darkness. God’s people are called to be ambassadors in this world, joining in his mission, proclaiming the message of reconciliation. Through suffering and through trials and temptations, with yearning in their hearts for a better day, God’s people proclaim this message until His return: be reconciled with God. Their method? Self-sacrificial love.
Why did Lessons At The Inn focus on the story?
This grand narrative is what shapes our mission and our method at NCI. It would easy for us to think that what people really need is a car, or a job, or food, or housing. The reality is that they need a reconciled relationship with God. It is essential that all of us who are engaged in mission in Fremont County should ask ourselves whether we are offering Christ or another false solution. Are we preaching the gospel or a false gospel constructed from our own earthly culture? Are we addressing the core problem of estrangement or tackling peripheral symptoms? It would also be tempting at NCI to judge some residents/staff/volunteers as being better or worse according to their particular flavor of sin. However, the message of the gospel is loud and clear: all have sinned and all have become estranged. Sin is the great leveler and the gospel of grace is our only hope. As we begin to interact with others from a place of humility and gratitude for the cross, we are able to abandon an attitude of condemnation and sacrificially serve others as Christ would serve us.