Settle this in your spirit: We are not returning to the Garden, we are transcending it. Innocent Eden is too small for the Perfect Bride, the Glorious Plan. Totality in redemption shall exceed every lesser expectation. No one will enter the eternal kingdom and say, “Yep, this is pretty much exactly what I thought it would be like!”
But just because it is beyond, doesn’t mean we’re not invited. A glorious future is not just stored up like a canned good awaiting some future threat or distant crisis. No, we can taste it even now. More than taste, we can experience, we can believe, we can participate in “the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:5). In Miracles, C.S. Lewis writes, “For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo. Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.”
For this, though, we must unlearn small redemption. We have not been taught the importance of life now, even though this life is the seed with which our resurrection shall be determined (1 Cor. 15), even though “godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).
Believer in Jesus, your destiny is nothing less than to fully become a partaker of the divine nature of God. This is not some secret far off moment, but rather it is to be expressed in the character of your life, in the demonstration of the authority of Christ through you, in servanthood and humility…now. You are meant to draw nearer and nearer to God Himself, until you are finally and irrevocably changed into His image. That is the ultimate journey, ever deeper into Christ Himself.
In Mere Christianity, Lewis writes:
“The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?
What we have been told is how we men can be drawn into Christ–can become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer to His Father–that present which is Himself and therefore us in Him. It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning…”
In The Grand Miracle and Other Selected Essays, Lewis goes even further, comparing our fallen nature to a rabbit. “We are to be remade. All the rabbit in us is to disappear–the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy.”