I have also been impressed of late with the thought that the final state of humans shapes what the gospel is all about. That is, the various mosaics of the final state of humans tells us a lot about what the gospel is designed to accomplish. Those mosaics, when put together, reveal a singular clarity about the purpose of humans in this world and that the purpose of God comes about through the power of the gospel itself.
Yesterday I looked at the beginning of the Gospel Story, and suggested it is the story of the Eikon. Today I want to look briefly at the End of the Story of the Eikon, and I want to make one major suggestion for your consideration. It is this: the gospel is the work of God to get us from the Eikon state, through the Fallen state, and into the Final State and, in the meantime, in our Earthy state to transform our life on this earth in our relation to God, to others, and to the world.
I do not mean in this post to suggest that we ought to abandon life in this world for a life in the next world. Instead, I am suggesting that the language and rhetoric of the Final State is a clue to what life in this world is supposed to be like. Some, of course, might even deconstruct the language of Eternity as warrant for life in this world. I would not follow them “all the way down” (as Rorty would say), but I would say this: the vision of Eternity is not for the sake of curiosity but for the sake of transformation in this world.
And I rely here, of course, on the images of the whole Bible, including the prophetic literature, the vision of Jesus of the Final Kingdom, and of the Revelation of St. John. And there is one expression that sums up the Final State: worshipping fellowship.
Never mind that the worshipping part is the ultimate expression of our love for God and the fellowship part the ultimate expression of our love for others, the point is this: visions of the Kingdom revolve around two behaviors and conditions. Humans worship God and they do so as a fellowshipping community. No vision of single, isolated humans worshipping God in huts, but of humans packed like sardines into the banqueting hall of God, sitting at the table with one another, and offering worship and praise to the Lamb of God.
Now my point about that gospel: the gospel is designed by God to get humans into that very condition — the condition of being a worshipping fellowship.