I love the bible. More accurately, I love the Christ who is revealed in the Bible. I love that this Jesus who reveals the very essence of God’s character. Our God loves humanity, so much that he took on flesh and experienced the worst possible outcome: death. But, we all know how the story ends… Jesus is risen! This central truth is why I am a Christian.
But what I’ve learned during my twenties is that the Scriptures are rich. There are so many contours to the biblical story that continue to amaze me. I want to offer you my favorite passage in the bible and why it’s my favorite. Then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favorite…
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. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies… In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:19-24, 26)
God plans to free this world from its bondage to sinful injustice! It’s been subjected to frustration; in other words, it’s experienced the detriment of the rebellion of humanity and of the demonic forces of evil. The frustration of creation is described as “groaning,” like a mom who is about to give birth. Birth = groaning. But, there is a deeper reality that is found beyond the groans: new life! Our world may be contracting and full of pain, but all of the groans of nature will be worth it, for they will lead to God’s restored world! Paul understood that God is not finished with his creation project yet. Just as the Israelites were liberated from their bondage under the Pharaoh, the universe will be liberated from the bondage to the decay of sin and satan. The end of the story of God is the rescue and restoration of all cosmic reality!
Not only is the creation groaning, but we Christians also groan. Why? Because we experience the same pain and struggle that the rest of our world does. The Holy Spirit causes us to “groan,” to feel pain, right in the midst of where creation feels pain. Does your heart ache for the pain that your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors have experienced as a result of our broken world? Do you have a sense deep within your soul, that the 1 billion people on earth that do not have access to clean drinking water, is not how God intended reality to be? Did your heart ache as you watched images of birds and sea creatures covered in oil after the BP oil spill? This is because the Holy Spirit is groaning within us to identify with the brokenness of our situation, and is compelling us to do something about it!