The epistle reading from today’s Daily Office features one of my favorite passages:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:18-21)
We are right to be caught up in wonder at the thought of God’s desire to redeem us and bring us into relationship with Himself. [In fact, the verses immediately preceding this passage remind us that Spirit we receive doesn’t make us slaves who live in fear, but brings about our adoption to sonship and allows us to shout, “Abba, Father!” because we have been made God’s children.] But as this passage makes clear, we would be wrong to think that God’s desire to redeem include only us. God’s saving purpose reaches out to embrace the whole of creation, promising that it, too, will be rescued from the brokenness of sin and will be reborn to become the dwelling place for His glory. As the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper put it: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!”
This means, it seems to me, that just as we are called to participate in sharing God’s redemptive purpose with our fellow beings; so, too, we are called to participate in expanding God’s redemptive purpose in creation. Just like God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15), so we have a continuing responsibility (and opportunity) to work and take care of creation, contributing to that day when it, too, will be brought into the same freedom and glory that will we will receive through the goodness and the grace of Christ.
So, what does it look like for us to participate in the “liberation of creation” today? I hesitate to answer that question – in part because anything I suggested might be construed in an unhelpful, “political” way – and in part because I suspect that most of us can figure it out for ourselves. But I will say this. Perhaps the answer begins with a rebirth of our own imagination.
Take a minute to go outside sometime today. Allow yourself a moment to appreciate the world, which – for all of sometimes careless and sometimes self-centered efforts – still manages to be a place of incredible beauty, productivity and resilience. But now consider: What you’re seeing is but a dull shadow of the glory that will be revealed on that day when Christ returns – not to make “all new things” – but to make “all things new.”
Even so, Lord – quickly come.