If, as I’ve been arguing for the past couple of days, Christ rather than Law is the ultimate piece in the narrative of the cosmos (especially as it pertains to God’s relationship with humanity), what might that mean for creation? I’ve tried to get the law piece out as I’ve reread the two creation narratives from Genesis over the past few days–but what does the Christological alternative look like?
The NT points us in this direction: Christ is not only the telos of the Law, he is also the source and the telos of humanity. God created us as “little Christs”, representations of the Son, and his person and work were the original, and will be the climactic, description of our calling as people.
Who is the “image of God,” the “firstborn of all creation”? Well, clearly, (to conflate the two stories), it’s Adam/ Adam and Eve. But this is the language of Colossians for Jesus: “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
In Colossians we have a description of Jesus as image of God that is not tied to the Christ event, but to his pre-creation existence. In other words, even more foundation than Jesus coming and filling the role of Adam (which is the next thing Col 1 says and what Paul talks about in Rom 1:4; Rom 5; and 1 Cor 15), we see that Adam himself was created to play the role of Christ. As the firstborn, image-bearer of God, who rules the world on God’s behalf, Adam fulfills the work of God the Son.
Let me stress again that this is another angle which undermines the idea that the fabric of the universe is Law or covenant–neither of which exist as the governing structures of either God’s intratrinitarian relationship or God’s pre-fall relationship with humanity. Neither Law nor covenant are needed because these beings were begotten/sent/made in relationship with one another. No covenant is needed for the same reason that I didn’t need a covenant to be my children’s father: they are born into that relationship (unlike the marriages they’ll undergo, Lord willing, down the road).
One further note on Christ as archetype of Adam in Colossians: note what he does in that role: he creates every throne, dominion, rule, and power. This is a further reflection on the nature of the power entailed in ruling the world for God: the Christ is the one who is the King over the kings, the ruler of the rulers–God’s own regent. This was the earthly role given to Adam. Adam is the embodiment of the Son (but not Christ incarnate, of course).
But this is not the end of the story, of course. As Adam was created to be an earthly christ, in a relationship governed not by the law; so Christ came to earth and died and rose as second and last Adam, representing people in acts and a covenant not governed by the law.
The Christological pattern is then repeated: as Adam was created in the image of the image, becoming the firstborn like the firstborn, so after Jesus becomes the firstborn from the dead, becomes the human son who reigns for God then those who are united to Christ are renewed after the image of Jesus’ own firstborn-/resurrection-sonship (Rom 8).
Christ himself determines the core of our identity as humans in relationship to God. He did not come with the goal of establishing the validity of the eternal law forever and ever. Law was given with the goal of reestablishing the validity of Christ’s eternal reign–and that of those who are in him.
This, of course, has tremendous implications for the question of the missional identity of God. Christ as the sent sender is something we see with crystal clarity after his earthly mission. However, we learn that Christ’s sending of little Christs into the world to represent his gracious reign begins far earlier–at the very beginning. Not only is our “Christian” calling to be on mission; not only is God eternally the sending God; this quality of God and our Christian calling is at the core of what it means for us to be human.
At root we are not law-keepers or law-breakers. At root we are sent ones: to be human is to be sent into the world to represent to it the reign of the firstborn son–the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn from the dead.