Friday, May 7, 2010

Why does creation eagerly wait?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. The earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation itself was subjected to futility; not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope. For the creation itself also will be delivered from its 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.

I love this so much. Why does Paul bring in the creation? I sort of have the idea, I think from CS Lewis, that we don't tend to be told stuff that's not our business. Why is the futility and liberty of creation our business? Or probably a better question, what place does it have in the gospel?

Paul brings it up to show us why the sufferings of this present time are not that big of a deal. As written about before, he doesn't explain the sufferings or specifically make them redemptive (well, maybe he does, but not overtly..more about that later); instead he says, they're "not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us" So the glory is used to put the suffering in its proper perspective, but the word "revealed" says that we aren't the objects of that glory; I mean, that the glory isn't solely for our contemplation. Instead, the audience to that glory is the rest of creation. I mean, Paul could have said, suffering now pales in comparison to the glory we'll experience later, in which we will be redeemed from all futility. That would have been enough. That would have been our gospel.

But he brings in the creation, and the strange, strange metaphor (or description) of the whole creation eagerly waiting around us, holding its breath in anticipation of our flesh being stripped away and the glory of God shining out of us. The richness and abundance of God's mercy is shown, in that God will let nothing continue in bondage to decay; he will glorify and redeem everything. Our suffering is not that important because creation is terribly important, and God in his mercy and love has chosen us not merely to be redeemed but to be his instruments of redemption.

I don't know how this works, and I fear I'm getting carried away. Are there other explanations for the fact that "the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God"? There's one... if the creation can't be redeemed until humanity is, then of course it will "eagerly wait" for it. It doesn't necessarily mean that humanity's redemption itself frees creation from its bondage to corruption, it could just mean that the freedom of both hinges on the same event. I think that this view leads most naturally to Pastor Min's explanation of the following verse...he says that God laid the Curse as a mercy and not as a punishment. That is, he screwed up his own creation after we sinned, in order that through hardship and tragedy and such we would need to seek and call out to Him, and so could be saved. Hence, "the creation was subjected to futility by Him who subjected it in hope". I agree with this, and can't think of another explanation for that verse. So it would make sense that once humanity is redeemed, creation can go back to being non-screwed up. That's why it's waiting for us to be redeemed, and also sort of explains the "birth pangs" metaphor-- its decay and degradation are painful but productive, in that they help to bring forth new life.

There's some parts that this view doesn't explain (why use that phrase "revealed in us"? Why does it say that the creation, upon being freed, will be brought into "the glorious liberty of the children of God"?) I'm still inclined to think that the truth has some of both ideas in it... sort of like how the Fall was caused by humanity's action, even though we didn't physically go out and plant all the thorns, the redemption of creation will also somehow come "through" humanity.

Anyhow, more later.

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