Transform, not escape

Stop the average Christian and ask them about the gospel, and you’ll probably get some version of the following:

Adam and Eve screwed up; they needed a fix, and God provided it by sending his Son to die for us and redeem us from our sins so we can spend eternity with him. Make that issue global and the church now has a mission. Humanity is fallen, and God sent his Son to redeem fallen humanity so that we can have a seat in heaven with him forever.

In his excellent book Static, Ron Martoia pushes us to ask some tough questions. “Is it the whole story?” he asks. “Is it even the main part of the story? I’m not convinced.” He also pushes us to consider the stakes. “If we are telling a shortened or incomplete version of the story, we are in some serious danger of distorting the message, and misleading all the Martys [those who aren’t Christians] of this world.” The problem, according to Ron, is that we begin in Genesis 3 and skip over the first two chapters. For many of us, creation is a prelude, sort of an introduction to the main story. This leads, however, to a truncated version of the gospel. The story isn’t just about sin, forgiveness, and eternal life. It’s about something much bigger. It is about “the restoration of things to the way God intended them to be.” This also makes sense of a lot of what Jesus did in his ministry: healing the sick, announcing good news to the poor, touching those who were excluded. Ron writes:

We have made a portion of the story all there is to the story. But what if Fall and Redemption, as important as they are, aren’t really the whole story, but simply a major section the middle of a larger story? What if the real story is the Garden, what it means to live in the Garden here and now, how to get back to the Garden, and the sort of pitfalls that exist in our experience of Garden life now? What if Jesus came to hand out free samples of the Garden? What if when Jesus says the kingdom of God is at hand, he is saying that Garden living is now possible, here and now? The restoration of the Garden is near. It is at hand. You can experience it now–not all of it, but a bunch of it. Jesus stated his mission: I have come to bring them life, a richer, fuller, more incredible life than they ever imagined. What if the story we have been telling is a thin-sliced version of the truth, rather than a thick, full, juicy slab?

Ron uses the image of the little pink spoons they use at Baskin and Robbins to hand out samples:

When Jesus came preaching and teaching and healing the sick, he was handing out pink-spoon samples of a restored creation. He wasn’t saying, “If you follow me, you will eventually get to heaven.” No. He was saying, “You can experience much of what the Garden has to offer right here and right now.” His goal was to transform the world, not to help people escape from it. This is one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and many of the other religions in the world. Jesus came to earth to transform it through love. He taught the disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, emphasis added). The direction here is important. The kingdom is coming here, invading this space, transforming this place.

What is our role in this? We are “windows to the Garden” and “pink spoon sample givers.” Can you think of a better image? I can’t say enough about this book. The more I read, the more excited I get. I’ll continue to blog more as I work through this book, but it’s definitely worth getting, especially for those who suspect there is more to the story than we usually mention. More on Static at

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada