Waiting With Eager Longing - As Seen on Sunday
I often do not wait for what I cannot see,
I often do not hope for what I cannot see,
This is the condition I find myself in as I see creation in bondage.
Help me to wait and hope along with creation for your Son’s return.
This week we take a look at Romans 8:18-25. Paul now shifts his thought from suffering to the time in which that suffering is no longer.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
When I spoke on our last set of verses, I really honed in on suffering but this literally says that it's worth it. We will share in Christ’s glory one day. Something is going to happen so amazing that those who were being martyred could be told that the present sufferings could not be compared to the glory that is coming. Sure people could say that this is just a false promise to get people to do what they want, but allowing themselves to be killed for talking about what Jesus did for everyone was not getting them anything.
Now Paul takes a turn that at first might not seem connected to suffering, but it all comes together.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
This part is a little weird. We have an anthropomorphized creation who is waiting and groaning. But Jesus himself did say that the rocks would cry out if he silenced his disciples. What is creation waiting for? Creation is waiting for the sons of God to be made known. Who are they? They are those who have been adopted by God! Christians. But aren’t Christians already known? Well, Paul is talking about a time when creation is set free from the results of sin, so I would say this is referring when Christ’s return. The Bible often talks about the separation of the wheat and tares or sheep and goats. This is the same idea where the revealing of the children of God will also indicate when creation itself is freed from humanity’s sin. Before anyone tries to track this with a timeline taken from Revelation, that is not the point. The point is that when Jesus returns, all of creation will finally be freed. That is what creation is waiting for, that time when it is no longer subjected to futility. God is the one who subjected it with the plan that all creation would be set free together with the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
This description of creation groaning in pains of childbirth is a fascinating comparison. Genesis says that the pains of childbirth are due to the curse. Creation is groaning with these pains because of the bondage that was put into it. But there is hope. Just like with birth the pain subsides and there is something new.
The firstfruit that this is talking about is literally the Holy Spirit being sent to be our helper and advocate. Josh’s three P’s from last week (The Promise, The Progress, and The Presence) certainly are a part of this idea of firstfruits in life. The reality of the Holy Spirit shows us that Jesus will be coming back and when He comes our bodies will be redeemed. That is interesting, right? Why our bodies? The typical idea is that in the greek mind, people didn't want to keep their bodies but in Christianity, the body is said to be renewed. This connects with all of creation being freed, including our bodies, which is why we do not nee to shed our bodies to reach some kind of new level.
Paul now takes a turn commenting on faith and hope when considering that we are still waiting. We are waiting for the glory to be revealed, creation is waiting, and again we are waiting to see our adoption, but all this is based on the belief that there is something to be waiting for. We have not seen our bodies completely redeemed or our lives completely freed from our sinful nature, but we have hope. It is by grace through faith that none can boast. Having hope in what we cannot see is that faith.
So literally, the present sufferings are nothing because we are all waiting with great expectation for Jesus’ return when he reveals the children of God and frees creation from bondage.
How does this affect Empty Church?
We've been really struggling with how to make our next steps but I think this says to us that all of the changes that we are going to go through are nothing compared to what God wants to do.
It reminds us of our why. For people to be the children of god so they can be released from bondage. I do not think that people are exempt from feeling the pains yet all do not accept the adoption.
Finally, we act in hope that God will honor it in Christ even though we cannot see the end result. When we expect something we prepare for it. If we expect in-climate weather we take proper precautions. There is a difference between just waiting for something and being complacent. To wait eagerly is much different from just waiting. I think the difference is seen in the different parables from Jesus about people receiving money where two of them double it and one hides it. Two eagerly awaited the master’s return and one did nothing. So are we going to merely wait, which does not even mean we’ll be recognized by Jesus once he returns, or are we going to eagerly wait?