Talking about the four-chapter gospel and its components – Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration, can devolve into abstractions. So it’s helpful when someone offers concrete illustrations of what each of these chapters might look like in our lives today.
In his essay “Redemption“, James K.A. Smith paints a picture of the myriad ways redemption is evident in our world. He starts by recognizing that sometimes redemption seems like an abstract concept:
But what does redemption look like? For the most part, you’ll know it when you see it, because it looks like flourishing. It looks like a life well lived. It looks like the way things are supposed to be.
Smith then points out that the other chapters help bring the hazy idea of redemption into focus.
All of this will look like grace if and only if you have a deep sense of the corrupting, disordering, cosmic effects of sin. Only if you appreciate the radical effects of the Fall can you begin to literally see the grace of what looks like everyday realities.
What do these everyday realities look like? Smith lists the excellence, skill, and contributions of giant cultural figures like Rafael Nadal, Julia Child, Yo-Yo Ma, and Mother Theresa. But then he offers less noticeable examples with this preface:
For the most part, Spirit-empowered redemption looks like what Raymond Carver calls “a small, good thing.” It looks like our everyday work done well, out of love, in resonance with God’s desire for his creation – so long as our on-the-ground labor is nested as part of a contribution to systems and structures of flourishing.
It looks like doing our homework, making the kids’ lunches for school, building with quality and a craftsman’s devotion, and crafting a municipal budget that discerns what really matters and contributes to the common good…. It’s nothing short of trying to change the world, but it starts in our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, and our schools.
Hopefully these concrete details can inspire you with a specific vision for seeing redemption in your own everyday realities.