Consummation. A word that is rich in meaning. While this word speaks of a specific event in a finite space of time, it also speaks of a future which is yet to be completed. Marriages are consummated with the expectation of two people coming together in a joining of their lives to begin a new life together and the ensuing family that will spring from that joining. Business deals are consummated with the signing of contracts that speak of what the future existence of those two companies will look like as they partner together to develop, produce and distribute new goods or services. In its richest use, the word “consummation” can be applied in a spiritual and theological context when the discussion of what is to come is undertaken.
In this, the consummation of the Story of God, the Story of Us, we are drawn to yet another gathering and yet another elder. We have followed God’s Story through the ages from the desert sands of Persia to the dusty streets of Rome. We have seen the story through singular persons who have had to remind their listeners of the existence and the reality of God’s story and its meaning and place in their lives. We have seen the story grow with each new generation and each new elder sharing the story with his own new audience. God has demonstrated His greatness, awesomeness…His unpredictability as He convicts, frightens, angers, burdens, and gives hope, inspiration and encouragement to those who hear His story and have a fresh and new encounter with His presence in their lives.
Finally, however, we have seen God reveal the final chapters of His story to us. He has drawn back the curtains that cover the stage that will host the final act of the greatest story ever to be played out. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of this final act when he tells us that “all of creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth” (Rom 8:22 ESV) hoping for the final act of God’s story to begin.
This is the discussion of an ekklesia, a group of people who have been called out and identified in the name of Jesus, the Christ. Executions are a common occurrence. Unjust arrests and imprisonments are the order of the day. Businessmen and women are at risk of losing their businesses because their patrons have turned away from them and no longer support them because of their faith. But in the midst of the pain of jailed, tortured and executed loved ones comes a letter from the last remaining Apostle. John. With this letter comes the promise of one final consummation. As the Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things steps once more out of a glorious Heavenly existence into a sin sickened world that has been crying out for Him since the Garden of Eden, we see it is with the purpose of bringing the will of His Father to a close. Restoring what was once lost.
But we have to ask the question: “why?” Why would God do this? Why would God, who is perfect, holy and righteous in every way spend so much time, effort and sacrifice on this world? Because of His love. Because He created this world to exist in perfect union with Himself and because He is Holy, Righteous and Just. He cannot leave what He created in perfection in a state of imperfection. Because He loved what He created, His greatest desire is to see that creation in perfection, restored and brought back to Himself. As Jesus once stood over a hill and wept over a city wishing that he could draw his arms around it in an infinite embrace, He will now stand over a world and draw His arms around it gathering His people to Himself; glorifying them and purifying them; consummating once and for all the relationship of the Creator, with His created.
Consummation….what a great word!!!