And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
If you’ve ever watched the TV show Heroes, you’ll likely recall the show’s famous line: “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” The idea was that if the characters of the show could save the life of a cheerleader named Claire, they could save the universe from destruction. And with this charge, the characters focused on that singular goal.
As I’ve argued in this series, the Church often takes an equally myopic view of which activities matter for eternity, believing that the only way in which our vocations matter is if we share the gospel with those around us.
As I hope I’ve made clear, while sharing the gospel is a good, Jesus–commanded thing to do, it is far from the only God-honoring thing we do through our work. As we’ve seen, our work can be a means of glorifying God, loving neighbor as self, building for the Kingdom, and spreading the aroma of Christ.
Today, I want to explore this question: What if spreading the aroma of Christ—or, in other words, working to restore all of creation and not just the souls who dwell in it—can be a means by which people come to faith in Jesus? In other words, what if saving the world is a primary means by which we save the cheerleader?
Let me offer one more analogy that I think might be helpful.
My wife Kara and I love to travel. It is one of the things we miss most in this post-pandemic world. Recently, Kara and I were talking about how we wanted to go to San Diego because of the city’s gorgeous beaches, clean downtown, world-class zoo, and friendly people. Believe it or not, the mayor of San Diego never once came up in our conversation. We don’t travel because we’re interested in the character or the policies of the person who rules a particular city. We are attracted by what that person’s policies produce.
What if the same is true of the Kingdom of God? What if one of the primary ways that God brings people to submission to his kingship is by giving them tastes of truth, justice, and joy—tastes of the Kingdom?
Revelation 21 makes clear that one day, Jesus will finish the building of the Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” But until then, he has called you and I to be his agents in the world, spreading his aroma and the news of his kingship through our work. As N.T. Wright says, “[God] calls his followers to live in him and to be new-creation people here and now, bringing signs and symbols of the kingdom to birth on earth as in heaven.”
Let us all embrace our vocations—our attempts to bring “signs and symbols” and the “aroma of Christ” into the world—as good, and God-honoring things in and of themselves, as well as a means of making people long to submit to the lordship of the One True King.