Warning: this topic is pure speculation, but here we go…
Humans are uniquely philosophical creatures: ‘Why am I here? What’s the purpose of life? Not to be flippant – but the Bible gives a pretty straightforward answer in Gen 1. We were made to ‘rule over the whole earth’ as his image-bearers, to ‘fill the world and subdue it’. Fill it with what? Our offspring? No – with God’s loving presence, as human ambassadors given sovereign authority as ‘creative co-creators’. Subdue it how? With power and exploitation? No, with the intimate love of a God who designed every intricate detail. God’s plan from the very beginning was to move from creation to new creation – and we were to be his hands and feet, his workforce.
This is what creation was ‘eagerly awaiting’ (Rom 8:19), devastatingly curtailed by sin and rebellion before ever getting underway. Humans were to be priests & mediators between the spiritual God and the physical world, uniquely created for the task, made from the earth like our fellow creatures, indwelt by God’s Spirit, crowned with glory and honour, given morality, reason, and intelligence beyond any other creature.
Perhaps God’s relational (trinitarian) nature compelled his aspiration for creatures to share in this grand scheme, whose own creative image-inations would contribute toward the transformational process of new creation. Whatever the reason, God never worked alone. From the beginning, He intended us to be part of that process – and still does.
God instilled aspects of freedom and choice into every level of the universe – from quantum indeterminacy to the evolutionary interplay of chance and necessity. But the creation of human beings extended that freedom to a new dimension – moral beings with a relational capacity to join God in love, or turn away. Despite our rebellion, the plan hasn’t changed. God insistently works with and through his people.
God called the animals, but Noah had to build the ark. God parted the Red Sea – but through Moses – ‘lift up your staff!’ Jesus healed saying ‘your faith has healed you’. Christ accomplished salvation on the cross, but commissioned his followers to spread that Gospel to the ends of the earth!
Why then do we imagine that when Christ returns, he will establish the New Creation alone – in some divine, miraculous event? Far more likely it will require time, hard work, and our participation. It’s our mess, and we’ll have to clean it up!