Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Pat and I were recently privileged to see some wonderfully scenic landscapes and seascapes in the state of Maine. I know we used the word beautiful repeated to descripe the things that we saw, but physical beauty really is quite subjective. I knew of a person who was actually frightened by trees and saw them as an ugly reminder of an unhappy past. When we speak of beauty, we usually realize that it is a matter of perspective. However, we need to realize that even the most breathtaking and glorious earthly objects are nothing when compared to the features of a world yet to be revealed. Today's message deals with this contrast.
"For I consider [reckon; kjv] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8.18-25).
This passage deals with the past, the present, and the future. In the present, it deals with suffering and the other obstacles that the believer faces. In the past, it deals with the historical plight of humanity and the effects of sin on the universe. However, the future is an entirely different story. The past and the present have their dark or troublesome sides; the future is a topic of different dimensions and expectation. In fact, Paul as much as says that the present cannot even be measured on the same scale as the future. The present sufferings are not even worthy of comparison when it comes to the glory that shall be revealed! The creation in this imagery is seen as longing and yearning for the “revealing of the sons of God.” The actual adoption, the future state in which believers shall live is referred to as “the redemption of our body.”
The adoption, the future, unrevealed glory – are all connected in some way. God fully intends to save those who abide in His word; it was with a view to His eternal pleasure that the scheme of redemption was conceived and executed. The adoption is an event that culminates the earthly limitations of the believer and clothes him/her with garb that we never have worn before. Perhaps the other side, the non-human side of the equation is one that deserves our utmost attention. A few questions will help focus our thoughts. Why does God want us to be saved/redeemed? To what lengths did/does He go to effect our salvation? Why put off the adoption for so long? Why has He made it such a momentous occasion and one which begs the attention of the entire universe? What is there to be gained by God in this event? Is the benefit entirely on the human side of events? Is God passionate about my salvation? Does He also long for the time when the redeemed will go home with Him to live eternally?
Perhaps we will never know the answer to these and similar questions, but one thing is clear – God cares for us and He cares to an extent that is beyond human comprehension. There is something in this for God; he does not sit dispassionately by and watch events unfold on our earth, many of them good but also a great majority of them being evil. God waits to adopt! What a view of He who inhabits the vast expanse of eternity! He waits, and so do we!
1. What is hope? How does it affect our outlook on life and the present?
2. What is the result of adoption? There are new sons and daughters, but there is also a new father or mother. How would you describe God as He awaits our adoption?
3. If there is great and indescribable joy yet to be revealed, what effect does that have on us?
4. In some sense, God is presently our Father; how will that relationship change when the adoption occurs?
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