Our sin derailed but did not destroy God’s purpose. It meant Jesus had to incorporate another purpose (dealing with sin) into his coming. But sin did not define or necessitate that coming. It complicated it.
This also means Jesus’ dealing with sin becomes a necessary precondition for fulfilling God’s final purpose of fellowship and communion with us. Necessary, wonderful, a gracious expression of God’s unfathomable love for us – but not the stopping point or full extent of what Jesus did as the Incarnate One!
Jesus deals with us, then, not simply as sinners who need rescue (though we are that!) but rather as beloved creatures of his Father, who appointed us his royal representatives in creation and overseers of its growth toward full flourishing. His work of redemption, not only reclaims us from the bondage into which we have fallen but also restores us to the primal dignity and vocation for which we are created.
However, we are not just set back on the road toward our full maturity as God’s companions and co-workers. No, in Jesus, the One both fully divine and fully and truly human, we participate in that very end for which God created. In him, we share in his full achievement of being the royal ambassador and creational overseer which we were created to be. We live now from that reality back into the new possibility of being such creatures through him. We live now to “become what we already are”!
In his coming Jesus regains for the Father his (adopted) family and the ambassadors and caretakers in and for his wondrous world so that his creation dream. Without sin Jesus would have come to incarnate the Father’s love and desire for the most intimate possible fellowship and communion with us forever. After sin, his coming involved the reclamation and restoration of humanity to that relationship which God always purposed.
We must, then, have a larger horizon of God’s “eternal purpose” (Eph.3:11) than simply Jesus’ dying to save us from our sin thus guaranteeing us a place in the afterlife. Rather, Jesus lives and dies and is resurrected and ascends to the Father so that his dream of being with us, indeed, one of us, sharing a life or rich relationship and satisfying governance of his new creation (Rev.22:5) might be realized.
We must adjust our view of others a bit in light of all this. They are God’s children and co-heirs with us of all God has promised. They too have the calling and dignity of divine royal representatives and overseers of God’s creation. That is what Jesus came for – to reclaim and restore them to that dignity and vocation. We must invite them to receive this inestimable gift of identity and calling through what Jesus has done for them (including but not exhausted by his death on the cross as a sacrifice for sin).
This is both more honest to God and to those around us. To God, because such an appeal more accurately represents his design and desire for us as his creatures and children. To those around us – because, though we have become rebels and sinners against God, that is not who we are. And Jesus came to enable us to realize who we are by overcoming who we have become. And that, as best I understand it, is the aim of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!