I don’t know about you, but I’ve been groaning a whole lot these days! The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging enough. But the injustices we have seen in Minneapolis have made my stomach turn and my heart break, not to mention the violent aftermath. Having the right worldview in such a time as this is crucial if we are to maintain peace in our own hearts, and have a positive impact on the world around us. There are some who wrongly believe that this world has the potential to reach perfection. They promote politics, medicine, education, and so much more as the answers to mankind’s greatest problems. While these programs are important and helpful, history has proven that they all fall very short of truly remedying the real problems. The hope of the United States of America in its inception was to provide a new world, a utopia, a nation that promised “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all men created equally. And now almost two hundred and fifty years later, the dream that our forefathers died for, still seems such a long way off. And we all groan for a better day!
And the question is why? Why can’t there be a place where there are no more viruses? Why can’t there be a place where love reigns instead of hate? Why can’t there be a perfect place on this earth? It shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible has all the answers to these questions! The Apostle Paul gives us insight into why it seems impossible for this utopia to exist in the present world. He tells us in Romans 8:17-25 that there will be suffering for believers in this world and they will be hated by the world system. He further states that creation itself has been “subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it” (v. 20). Certainly, Paul has in mind here the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3). When Adam sinned, not only was all of mankind deeply impacted by sin, but also creation. And now because sin entered into the world, the world is broken. As a result, people often hate each other, and creation itself groans to be “set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (v. 21). And thus, now for centuries, everyone and everything is groaning for a better day!
Our Only Hope
So, do we have any hope that this day will come? Paul says emphatically “Yes!” He tells us that there is a day coming that is the hope of the world. We do not see it now, but this utopia is a reality that is in the future. And this hope is not an uncertainty, but rather a certainty that promises at least two realities. First, those who are true believers in Christ, children of God, will be revealed in glory and our adoption will be completed when we receive the redemption of our bodies (v. 23). Furthermore, those who are truly God’s children by faith in Jesus will be “heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ” and enter into glory (v. 17) and will reign with Christ. We will receive an incredible inheritance that has been reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4). Second, creation itself will also be “set free from its bondage to corruption.” Jesus stated that the earth would be rebirthed, or regenerated when He sits on His throne (Matt 19:28) in what is known as the millennial kingdom. When Jesus returns to the earth and sovereignly reigns with dominion, the earth will be paradise regained. The earth will not be a totally new earth, but a restored one (see also Rev 21:1, Acts 3:21, Is 65:17, 66:22). So here is the hope of the new world that is coming. At this restoration, righteousness will flourish, peace will abound, health and healing will prevail, the earth will produce food as never before, the lion will lay down in peace with the lamb, the deserts will blossom, and life will be long. And the promise of all of this comes with the return of Jesus!
What Do We Do in the Meantime?
So, what do we do while we wait in this broken world? We certainly should expect some things to get worse. The Bible promises us that nation will rise against nation (more hatred), and there will be more famines and earthquakes (creation groaning) in various places (Matt 24:6-8). And as a result, our groaning will become more intense. But the Apostle Paul gives us three exhortations in Romans 8:23-25 while we wait.
First, Paul says that we are to “wait eagerly for adoption as sons.” There is only a utopia and paradise regained for those who are truly sons of God. Better days are coming for us (1 Peter 3:10), but we must wait. Waiting is hard. But we must put our trust in the Lord and keep our eyes toward heaven waiting and listening for the trumpet to blow when we will see Jesus coming on the clouds to make everything better (1 Thess 1:10, 4:16-17, 1 Cor 15:50-58). We should have an eagerness in our hearts, and a longing for these promises. Second, we are to hope! The Bible doesn’t portray hope as wishful thinking or probability but rather a certainty based on the integrity of God’s clear promises. This hope is not yet a reality but is coming. Third, we must wait with patience. God has promised to complete His work in the world and in us (Phil 1:6). We must be patient in the meantime, again putting our trust in the Lord’s purposes and plans.
A major part of that patience is simply “being” the sons of God in this world. We understand that society will continue to have problems. But God has left Christians on the earth to be “salt and light” (Matt 5:13-16). By their very presence, Christians should infiltrate society with righteousness and expose the evils of darkness. The Sons of God should set the standard for society by obeying what God requires of everyone, namely to “act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). While society will never be perfect until Jesus comes, the Church should remember that we have an incredible obligation to be the catalyst for our culture to adopt God’s truth, righteousness, and love. The Church must never turn a blind eye to racism, hatred, or injustices. Gratitude overflows on account of those who have gone before us, who upheld these virtues and eliminated injustices toward many of the vulnerable in the past. While we groan as we see so much progress yet to be made, we are also filled with hope that a better and more perfect day is truly coming.