“. . . we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom 8.23).
New Year’s Eve 2008 will be much different for us this year. We would otherwise join most in an afternoon watching BCS also-rans and wiping Rotel dip from our chins. We will, however, squeeze into family court where a judge will declare our two foster children Maxwells. What God has done to orchestrate this so quickly is beyond explanation. It would be like trying to describe the thrill of the world’s greatest ride by explaining how the ride works. Even we are not quite sure of all the secret things God has done on our behalf. We only know he’s done it and He owes no further explanation.
If adoption were a house there are a thousand rooms to open. Each room has its own theme and contribution to make to the whole structure. We and our children will spend the rest of our lives opening new rooms and enjoying the Light each room provides. In so doing, we will see and enjoy more and more of Jesus. For readers of this blog, I’m afraid you might be in for a long season of adoption-themed meditations. You may grow quickly bored, but I pray you’ll remind my children to read them when they get older.
The room I open this morning is the “Romans 8.23 Room.” It’s a suite, really, with windows on every wall peering dimly into the glories of heaven. Paul declared that we are already adopted (Rom 8.15) but that we still await our adoption. The apostle is not schitzophrenic or contradictory. He’s helping us understand the already/not yet principle of redemption. Christ has redeemed us and will consummate that redemption in the last day.
In this life and age, those in Christ are indeed sons of God (v14). But we’re not yet home. We live in various places under various conditions. The church is a “sibling group” split up and under the earthly care of national boundaries, oppressive rulers, wealthy democracies, economic classes, sinful appetites, language barriers, and a million other “parents.”
Though we may share nothing else there is one thing we all share: we all groan to be home. We all wait eagerly for our adoptive Father to take us home. He’s long promised to do so. He’s paid the ransom, applied the downpayment for our souls and has prepared our eternal home (Jn 14.3). But our bodies are not fit for such a glorious place so they must die first and be raised. So we wait until that cosmic “New Year’s Eve” when the Judge of the Universe says, “Dear children, you’ve spent enough time in “the system;” it’s now time you come home and be with me forever.”
We can hardly stand waiting two more weeks for an earthly judge to make an earthly ruling. How much more eager should we be for the eternal reality behind it all!
While sitting on the window sill of this Romans 8.23 Room, I daydream about what God might be feeling as we groan and eagerly wait. We must tread softly and carefully here. We must never assume that because I feel a certain way then God must feel the same way, too. Too often we assume the “If I were God” mentality to can help us understand who God is. In fact, it was precisely that mentality that got is all in eternal trouble in the first place! We’re not free to trust our interpretation of our Unchanging, Infinite God through our fickle emotions.
But . . .
From time to time, Jesus does appeal to our experience as image-bearers of God in order to draw our minds to the nature of that image. This appears in some form as the formula “If you/it are/is like x then how much more must the Eternal, Holy God be like x.” For example, if Jonah would’ve died over a plant he had nothing to do with creating how much more should God care for the Ninevites he had everything to do with creating (Jonah 4.10-11). In Mt 7.9-11/Lk 11.11-13 Jesus said that if we evil parents inherently desire to give our children good thing, then how much more must our Holy, Heavenly Father desire the same. If God takes so much care to feed ravens and grass, how much more does he care for his children (Lk 12.24, 28). If a (biblically-minded) husband does not inherently hate himself, but knows to nourish and cherish his wife then how much more must Christ nourish and cherish the church (Eph 5.28-29).
With all humility and fear, I cannot fathom what God must be feeling toward those for whom he crushed his son. If I feel what I do toward my two new adopted children – for whom I did not die and who will die themselves one day – then how much more must God feel toward his blood-bought sons and daughters!
I cannot imagine eagerly awaiting anything more than our adoption finalization on New Year’s Eve, 2008 (of course, my wedding would be included but that’s another biblical metaphor for another time!). If I feel so soul-busting full towards a finite, earthly event how much more does God anticipate our eternal redemption? If God feels toward his adopted children to the an infinite degree what I feel toward mine then how can I stand one more second away from home?
I could spend all day in this room, but there are many more to explore. I’ll leave the door open, though, in case you want to want to wander around.