April 20, 2020 • Life for Leaders
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Today we continue in the series I began last week, “Easter and COVID-19.” I have been working with you on the question: How does the resurrection of Jesus matter as we face the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis? You can read the previous devotions in this series here.
Last Friday, we examined Romans 8:18-25, paying attention to the sorry state of our broken world. According to this passage, it is filled with sufferings, futility, bondage, decay, and pains. Creation itself is groaning and we join in as we long for the world to be renewed.
Our passage from Romans shows that God’s work isn’t only a matter of saving souls—though this is crucial, thanks be to God. Yet, verse 21 reveals that “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” God perfectly created the world so that it might be beautiful and fruitful (Genesis 2:9). But sin messed up what God had made, spreading brokenness throughout creation. Decay is one facet of that brokenness.
Yet God, through Christ, is in the business of mending this world. By defeating sin and death through his cross and resurrection, Christ has begun this restorative process. In time, the world will participate in “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). What is this glory? In our translation, verse 18 speaks of “the glory about to be revealed to us.” But the Greek could also be rendered as “the glory to be revealed into us.” In other words, we don’t just see the glory. We share in it. This truth was seen in the verse immediately prior to our passage, where it was said of Christ that “we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:17). Someday, as we read in the prophet Habakkuk, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). In that day, we will both marvel at this glory and share in it (Romans 5:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:17). The world and its inhabitants will finally be all that God intends us to be.
Now, at this point one might think, “That sounds great. But I’m just not seeing it. The world is a mess, and with the coronavirus, things are worse than ever. How can I have hope for this world?” This is a reasonable question, one that Paul answers briefly in Romans 8:24-25: “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Our hope is not based on our ability to foresee the future. It’s not based on us at all. Rather, it is based on who God is and what God has done through Jesus Christ. It rests on the solid foundation of the resurrection of Jesus.
And it also rests on the work of God’s own Spirit in our lives. I’ll have more to say about this in tomorrow’s devotion. For now, let me invite you to consider the following questions before you conclude this devotion with prayer.
Something to Think About:
Do you tend to think of God as being mainly in the business of saving individual souls? If so, why? If not, why not? What else is God up to in the universe?
When you hear the word “glory,” what comes to mind?
When you think of sharing in God’s own glory, how do you respond? What do you think? What do you feel?
Where have you placed your hope, really? How does your hope make a difference in your life?
Something to Do:
Look up the following passages of Scripture: John 17:22; Romans 5:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17. Reflect on what they teach about our participation in God’s glory and what this might mean in your life today.
Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n to earth come down:
Fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation, enter ev’ry trembling heart.
Finish, then, thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be:
Let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee;
Changed from glory into glory, ’til in heav’n we take our place,
‘Til we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise. Amen.
Verses 1 and 4 of “Love divine, all loves excelling” by Charles Wesley (1747). Public domain.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God Sets Limits (Genesis 2:3; 2:17)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.