I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:18–25
I regularly have a song in my head, especially when I am writing. This past week, I internally sang, “That’s great it starts with an earthquake bird’s and snakes and airplanes . . . It’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” Good song, bad theology. But then, the band R.E.M. does not hold itself out as theologian. So, why is it that the “theology” of this song, is so often reflected by Christians; why do so many who claim Jesus as Lord live life as if “it’s the end of the world as they know it and they feel fine?” It’s been my experience that many Christians view our relationship to creation as one of consumption rather than stewardship, of profit instead of partnership. Maybe it is just my experience, but I doubt it.
It it is not just the posture toward creation but toward social issues and concerns about injustice, inequality, race, reconciliation. Our “me first” culture has usurped God’s intended Kingdom culture that instructs us, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3–4
Paul speaks of a reality everybody already knows; we live in a world where both creation and people groan. We grown because something is broken. We need healing, restoration. And that is exactly God’s promise — not only the people of the earth, but the earth itself will be restored — the creation waits for the children of God to be revealed, and as the children of God, we wait eagerly for our adoption. We wait in the assurance and hope that our adoption, our revelation as children of God, has already been consummated even if it has not been fully birthed. This is the in-between time — In the world but not of the world; already not yet — our prayer “God’s Kingdom come, God’s will be done in our world in the same way that is done in heaven.”
And so we wait, but not as people who look around and see things as the end of the world yet feel fine because it ultimately does not affect us. We wait with the reality that God is with us, that he is in us, that we are ambassadors, sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ, charged to be about the healing and the restoring the earth and her people because the Kingdom of God is at among us, and it is a Kingdom of hope that ordinary people grab hold of and experience the extraordinary.
Peace, hope and love