Sunday 5 September
Romans 8:18-25, Genesis 2:15
This World Shares in our Redemption
So earlier we enthused about God’s creation and although I never gave you all the good reasons that we should care for our universe – we clearly should by scriptural mandate, never mind that we ought to do it in our service and out of love and gratitude to God.
Yet perhaps you’ve heard fewer positive things about this world and all that has been created. Mosquitoes that pass on malaria and cause many deaths each year, cancers, hurricanes, floods, erupting volcanoes & viruses that causes worldwide devastation.
Many of you will go back to an answer Tim offered earlier in this series – The fall in the Garden of Eden. In Eden none of these things were present, but as Eve persuaded Adam to break God’s one rule which he gave to them, they were cast out of paradise into this fallen world – where we clearly can see and know the knowledge of both good and evil all around us.
This leads us into our main passage this morning verse 18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Suffering, grief, illness and disasters are part of this journey through life in our fallen world. In the Bible we are given a right perspective on these things. If we had a set of scales that could measure suffering in this life against the blessings of eternity with Jesus, it would be lope-sided in favour of the latter. Christians learn that our hope lies beyond this fallen world and its temporary highs and lows. This hope is inextricably linked to the redemption God offers to us all through Jesus Christ – the one who is the way, the truth and the life and through Him and Him alone can any of us come to the Father in glory, and that will be revealed within us once we become Christians.
So as Paul writes about present sufferings, look at the positive words he uses:
verse 18 “not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed”
verse 19 “creation waits in eager expectation”
verse 21 “the creation itself (which is subjected to its fallen state) will be liberated”
verse 23 “we (Christians) wait eagerly for … the redemption of our bodies”
verse 24 “in this hope we were saved”
verse 25 “we wait for it patiently”
In 1 Corinthians 15:58 Paul assures us that “our toil is not in vain” and earlier in that chapter, that death is not the end for our souls. Jesus has conquered death.
Just as our present sufferings stem from the sin, of Adam, and from ourselves and others – by greed, malice, deceit etc., the damage to our planet by these same sins is often awful too. Toxic waste, plastic in our water courses and seas, rain forests destroyed, species becoming extinct, etc.
Since we have a duty of care towards this planet, we then need to take responsibility for our actions which can hinder or help in our task. Purchasing things which do not last, buying plastics: toys, food wrappings, outdoor furniture, etc; buying items which use huge amounts of energy or resources that are mined from the ground and which leave serious lasting damage in the environment etc. This surely means that we will have to keep reassessing our choices and perhaps we can campaign for items to last longer & use less energy – like the household appliance legislation that has recently been passed. OR find new ways to cut the waste and damage. Recycle etc.
So, creation suffers with us because of sin. It metaphorically longs in hope for redemption – that’s what v19-22 tell us. Paul further compares it to childbirth, the pain, then the new life arrives.
After the years of broken, fractured disconnection a brand new harmonious, perfect world lies ahead.
In both Isaiah 11, where the wolf lies down with the lamb and Revelation 5, where the lion lies with the lamb there is a portrayal of the change in animosity and togetherness once redemption for creation will have taken place. The natural order and ways of this world will be replaced by a new supernatural order which is richer and faultless.
These verses also speak of the certainty of future glory. The Christian hope is not simply wishful thinking, it is guaranteed. Living Christian faith sees this in the here and now. (It will be revealed verse 18, creation will be liberated and brought into freedom and glory verse 21, Christians don’t just hear these words – they know it will happen.
Let’s notice that as God’s creation, it waits in eager expectation verse 20 awaiting liberation from decay to this guaranteed freedom that the redeemed receive, that this is the same issue for us verse 23-25.
The implications are clear – a new world without decay or death, from a new beginning – being born anew, and becoming like first fruits in a bountiful harvest.
Perhaps like me you have aches and pains; or you need to wear glasses and sometimes have a moan and groan about these things. Well, that’s okay, because our present experience is not the way God wants for us and let’s be honest the far better alternative is unbeatable.
When we are saved into this HOPE verse 24 that is what we are assured off and the time where we moan and groan is short in comparison, so we wait patiently, trustingly, humbly, graciously, and with gratitude and expectation.
God does not expect us to sit back and wait for all this to happen – He calls us to serve, to be people of action and to proclaim this amazing hope of redemption – for creation and for all people who will invite Jesus to take our sin and to fill us with the Holy Spirit to be our helper, comforter and guide.
If we are Christ’s, we will surely help others to find this patience, this redemption and some people might just see something in us as we campaign and live showing we care for this amazing world of paradox, now subject to decay and death, but somehow wonderfully and fearfully made – By almighty, all knowing, omnipresent God.
Have you personally encountered Him yet? There is no good reason to put off being redeemed and blessed with eternal hope and to start seeming glimpses of freedom as God’s children, and can you do more to be a good steward of this amazing world? Amen