‘Fixer Upper’ and New Creation

Teresa and I consider ourselves to be a very unique couple, never following trends, always finding new things before anyone else. So, naturally, we’re big in to HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper,’ unlike every other 30 & 40something.

Last night, we laid the kids down, did our nightly celebration of having survived another day with a four and two year old, and plopped down on the couch with Sawyer (our Golden Retriever) to catch up on some DVR. ‘Fixer Upper’ is a show on HGTV about Chip and Joanna Gaines in Waco, TX where they convince clients to buy the sketchiest, ugliest house around and allow them to completely redo the house and transform it into the home of their dreams. The transformation each week is not only amazing, but the two goofy lovebirds are what really sells the show. Men (or maybe just me) wish they were as handy and as constantly happy as Chip; women wish they were as creative and trend-setting as Joanna.

During the most recent episode, the Gaines found an old farm house on 45 acres and convinced a couple to let them completely flip the house. And by completely flip the house, I mean completely flip it! They literally moved every room and re-did the whole thing…at which point my bride said, “Why not completely tear down the whole thing at this point? Why completely redo it, when you could just tear the house down and start anew?” I thought to myself what a profound question…with a very theological application.

(See friends, this is what it is like to have to live with me. You can’t even just enjoy a T.V. show without me turning it into some theological treatise)

Why not, though, just tear down the house and start again? For that matter, why shouldn’t God just look at this fallen world and completely destroy it when He makes a new heaven and earth? Why should He (and we!) even deal or mess with this clunker of a world? Unfortunately, this is the position many Christians have taken in the 20th and 21st century, basing such a belief on 2 Peter 3:10-13:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Some Christians read this passage and conclude that God will just burn up and completely destroy this earth when He makes a new one.  Therefore, they conclude that the earth and creation is rather insignificant, meaning we can treat the earth and our bodies in whatever way we want. They take what we might call the “Total Demolish and Rebuild” approach to a New Creation.

Upon first read this, indeed, seems to be what Peter is suggesting. However, there are a number of reasons against such an interpretation and, instead, for a “Fixer Upper” interpretation. First is the fact that the word for “new” in II Pet. 3:13 and Rev. 21:1 is kainos (new in kind), as opposed to neos (new in time). If the new creation was new in time, that would indicate that it did not previously exist, and thus, it could not be a renewal of a previously existing creation. Second is the promise of freedom from corruption given to nature in Rom. 8:19-23. One could say that it is to be fulfilled in the millennium, but the language seems to fit total restoration better. A third argument is the goodness of God’s creation. Here, the analogy with the resurrection body helps. Just as God’s creation of us as embodied creatures is validated by the resurrection of the body, so God’s choice to place us in a creation, and the essential rightness and goodness of that creation, is vindicated by its ultimate restoration. Finally, if the creation is in the end destroyed, does that not give Satan a victory?

In other words, God will take this fixer upper and He will make it new and perfect! Chip and Joanna each week acknowledge the many problems with their proposed fixer upper, and yet they see the fundamental goodness of that which exists but is in desperate need of redemption. You might say, then, that their work is inherently theological, picturing the redemption of this fallen world to one day most assuredly come!

Of the many ways for us to apply this truth, just one is to affirm the fallenness but goodness of creation itself. The Proverbs very similarly affirm the essential goodness of this world, including clothing materials, land, crops, and food, meaning we need to affirm this truth as well. Old Testament scholar Craig Bartholomew puts it like this: “The Bible nowhere teaches an escapist mentality; rather it teaches that we are waiting to be surprised by a new creation, where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. This good creation is the very stuff of redemption.”

The point being that this world, this earth, and your role in it matters! Your daily labors are opportunities for worship; your job, house cleaning, and hobbies are all opportunities to model the redemptive work of God. Who knew that an hour-long form of entertainment on HGTV could picture the Divine?

Who knows how your day today and tomorrow could do the same?