(Thinking on things eternal reminded me of something I had written last year. So here it is.)
We Have This Hope
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly 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 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Romans 8:19-22)
Sitting early one morning in our family room, I paused in my reading to take in the view through the patio door. It was the middle of April, yet the recent weather had been more suited to March. Days, seemingly weeks, had gone by, with few glimpses of the sun. Everyone was longing for the fair weather that the month ought to have ushered in. But on this day, there was a blue sky and fresh white clouds. I gazed out at this most welcomed sight and relished the happy chirping of birds in the still skeletal tree branches. It was a welcome retreat before I was launched into the busyness of the day.
A Frightening Forecast
Contemplating this delightful scene, my thoughts turned to the state of our planet. Recently, the threat that is called global warming was receiving much attention in the media, amongst scientists, politicians and celebrities alike. I thought of how disturbing the predictions of the experts could be. It truly would appear that we were doing too little too late, and that the fate of the earth was sealed. We were slowly eroding and poisoning our resources, and harming our atmosphere to the degree that catastrophic weather conditions were inevitable. Added to this was the threat from diseases such as AIDS, SARS, and flu pandemics. Truly a bleak picture was being forecast for all of mankind.
It would be easy to feel hopelessness and fear in the light of these doom and gloom predictions. But as I sat there enjoying the tiny scrap of nature presented in my backyard, God seemed to be leading me to a different viewpoint. I thought of how perfect His creation had been in the beginning, and of how sin had entered the world, bringing with it death. (Rom. 5:12) For truly, since Adam and Eve first rebelled in the Garden, our world has been slowly dying. Just as sin brought physical and spiritual death to all of mankind, the earth has also suffered its consequences. Because of that one sin committed, the whole of creation was then subjected “to futility” by God Himself. (Gen. 3:17)
God Made Us Stewards
God made mankind ruler over all of His earthly creation. We have had a wonderful privilege and responsibility for thousands of years. But being the fallen, sinful race that we are, we have made a mess of things. The state of the world today should be no surprise to us. As Christians we understand that sin has infected every aspect of humanity, and that it is only God’s restraining grace that keeps us from totally annihilating ourselves.
Science holds out answers to us; reasons why, and remedies for the peril that seems to loom ahead only a few decades. But Science has left out a critically important factor in its’ reasoning. It assumes a universe with no creator, and so can look no further than mankind for hope. It sees our earthly life, and the life of this planet, as the most important, valuable things in existence. This is the conclusion that worshipping the creature rather than the creator (Rom. 1:25) has brought us to. Mankind stands helpless, yet blind to his own inability to control the destiny of this planet. This worldly mind set, in rejecting the idea of a sovereign, creating God, has also rejected its only hope of life, even eternal life.
Where Is Our Hope?
It is sad that millions are desperate to find their ultimate happiness, contentment and safety in this dying world. They are deceived in thinking that this life is the most important thing and that this creation can be saved and corrected in their own strength and wisdom, that they have the power and authority to control the destiny of mankind. Indeed they must do if they are to justify their rebellion and be successful in living apart from our creator God. If His existence is not acknowledged, then He cannot be sought for help.
We can go to the moon and to Mars, and fertilize human eggs in petri dishes. We think we have accomplished great things. But in comparison to the Creator of the universe, we are as puny ants in an ant hill, busying ourselves with our little piece of the universe, totally unaware of our own smallness in the face of Almighty God and eternity.
Later, on the same day of my backyard musings, I read in a letter to the editor about the disastrous effects that global warming would have, and the need to be finding solutions before it is too late. The writer saw “human ingenuity” as an “amazing force” that “is required now for a better world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.” Again, putting hope in the creature, and giving glory to the creature, rather than the Creator.
We Are But Dust
In our society today, there is a frantic desire to be “young”, a desperate seeking after looking younger, feeling younger. Looking “your age” means being unattractive, and must be avoided at all costs. I don’t believe that it is entirely about vanity, or competing with others to look better than they do. The root of it is a belief that this life is all there is, and that this body is the only one we will ever have. There is a desperate attempt to preserve it as long as possible. Not only outward appearance, but inwardly though exercise, diet, health foods, and more. This is further evidence of creature worship. Not that these things in and of themselves are wrong, but when we leave God out of the equation, it becomes all about us, and is idolatry.
What to Think?
It is easy to become caught up in this mind set, to let the threats of doomsday form cold hard lumps of fear in our gut. But we have a greater hope. We can look beyond this earthly life to an eternal one. We know the true reason for our dilemma, and the condition of the earth today. And we know its only cure - the grace and mercy of God in the cross of Jesus Christ. Creation is God’s handiwork, and mankind is His crowning achievement. We should seek to care for and preserve this earth as obedient stewards. We should seek to care for our bodies, knowing that our lives are not our own, and our bodies are to be presented to God for His use and glory. Seeing eternity, seeing the glory of God as our ultimate purpose, and this earthly life as simply a means to that end, go a long way in rooting out fear of the future, self absorption and discontent.
We can have peace in the face of all of these threats, knowing that nothing is by accident. We need to remind ourselves that these things are not dictated by the whims of an out of control “Mother Nature”, but that all events are directed and controlled by God. That all is unfolding according to His plan and purpose, and that no matter what goes on in the wold around us, our hope is in heaven, our treasure and inheritance of eternal life is reserved and kept safe for us there. We look forward to a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1), when “creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) This will take place when we realize our ultimate purpose and destiny, and are glorified, being made like Christ, to dwell with Him for eternity.
In the end He will be proven. “Every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Phil 2:10) Mankind will not succeed in restoring the earth, and in fact it will be destroyed (2Peter 3:19). But God will bring a new heaven and a new earth. Mankind will realize his smallness and God’s glory. All of God’s plans and purposes in redemption will be realized, both in saved souls and in the created order. “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Eph 1:9,10) Speaking again of Christ “whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3:21)
Should we care about global warming? Should we recycle, educate ourselves about toxins in our environment? Yes we should. We are accountable before God to do whatever is within our means to do, as the Holy Spirit leads. Not in a spirit of fear of the future, but in a spirit of worshipful obedience to our loving, sovereign God.
We should recognize the urgency and importance of living our life totally for and before God. Make His glory our highest goal, make our resources and ourselves available to the Holy Spirit so we may be the ones to bring lost souls to the safe haven of Jesus Christ.
He Is Our Hope
As God’s children, we have so much to hope for, so many promises in His word that can steady our souls in the midst of a world that is on a collision course with disaster. Even our earthly bodies will be made like His body, “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality”. (I Cor 15:53) Even our great enemy, death, will be “swallowed up in victory”. (1Cor 15:54)
Let us ponder these wonderful truths as we live each day, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:13)
Dear Lord: The days are born as if without effort; they glide along, one following another, like ducks on a pond. Yet I know that only You are upholding all things: sun rising and setting, earth’s turning and revolving, every movement of wind and cloud. You are Author and Master of every moment in time. The whole earth is Yours, and everything in it. Like some vast stage it serves Your purposes as You work out Your will in countless ways and places. I think of Your faithfulness, not only to Your creation, but to Your own Word and Honour. This gives me so much peace, knowing You are always faithful to Yourself. I see Your plans laid out in Your Word. I see the beauty and perfection of them. I am encouraged, and certain in my mind and in my heart that all You have determined will come to pass. So much would appear to be in confusion around me, but I have You as my center, my point of reference. I can bring all things to You and You put them in their place. Everything becomes as incidental in the face of Your sovereign purposes. I walk amongst chaos, amongst those who have nowhere to turn for hope. But my hope is in the LORD Who made heaven and earth. This lets me look straight ahead, not to the left or the right. My soul is steadfast; it does not flinch. This is a gift beyond price, this gift of faith. I wait in joyful hope for the bringing together of all things in Christ. All glory and honour is Yours, dear Lord.
We’ll Know You Then
We’ll know You when we see you, Lord
When freed from this life’s hold,
And carried to our final home
To walk on streets of gold.
While in this earthly body now
Our eyes but dimly see.
The beauty that is fully Yours
We’ll view eternally.
For now as in a glass so dim
With feeble sight, in part,
But then full known You’ll be to us,
As us to You now art.
We’ll need no one to introduce us,
Standing at Your throne.
You’ll look at us with the same love
That let us be Your own.
We’ll know You by the wounds you bear,
Though given long ago.
These marks You will forever wear
That all may look and know
The price You paid to set us free,
When led so meek and mild,
You took our place at Calvary
So each would be Your child.
With faith we look to what will be
When we will be transformed.
Completely from all sin set free
Pure worship we’ll perform.
This truth to us an anchor sure;
We wait in hope enduring.
Se zealous to have hearts made pure
To show at Your appearing
All praise and thanks to You we give
For only by your grace
We have eternal life to live
And strength to run this race.
The here and now is but a taste
Of what You have in store
When not a second will we waste;
We’ll praise forevermore.
So till that time when faith is sight
O Lord be pleased to give
Your grace to make our hearts more right;
Our lives to you we’ll live.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but
then face to face; now I know in part,
but then I will know fully just as I also
have been fully known.” (1Cor 13:12)