20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.
The world is a broken place. Most of us know this intuitively, but the last year and half have taught us this explicitly. A global pandemic has utterly changed the way we live our lives. We have dealt with masks, temperature screenings, and heightened cleaning and safety procedures. Both Nashville and my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, were struck with a series of tornados that caused catastrophic damage to homes and businesses. It’s easy to see that the world is not as it’s supposed to be.
Yet, in my experience, when most Christians think of brokenness, they think primarily on the personal level. We consider how sin has affected our hearts and our relationships. We think less often about the global impact of sin. We don’t always pay attention to the ways the created world mirrors the kind of brokenness we find lurking inside the human heart. Romans 8 touches on the global impact of sin alongside the glorious hope of redemption.
Paul wrote that the created order has been “subjected to futility.” Futility is not a word most of us use very often, but it means pointlessness or uselessness. Consider what an astounding claim that is. What God made in the garden and called “good” and filled with purpose and meaning has been tarnished by sin.
For Adam, this meant thorns and thistles would grow up around the good and useful crops he was planting and harvesting. For us, this means all we work for can be taken away by disease, death, disaster and decay. For this reason, we hold loosely to the treasures we have in the world, because they can be corrupted by rust or eaten away by moths. Instead, we need to look beyond the sometimes gloomy circumstances of the present to the glorious promise of the future.
Redemption, like sin, has personal and global implications. Our redemption is first personal. God has redeemed us and gives us life by His Spirit. But it is also global. One day the futility imposed on creation by sin will be replaced and renewed with meaning and purpose.
The story of the Bible begins and ends in a garden. Paul points out that “creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay.” The hope of the gospel is bigger than a personal hope. It is a global hope that the world God created and called good will once again fully reflect the all goodness of God’s design, free from the tarnish of sin.
Reading Romans 8 should lead us to long for that day and for the place God is preparing for us, free from every form of corruption and decay. Knowing these truths allows us to live in a broken world with the hope that the world will be renewed.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Where do you most often feel the brokenness of the world around you?
- Where do you most want to see the world made new?
- How does the future renewal of all things fill you with hope today?
Pray for Bereket and Becca, global workers in our church family, working cross-culturally locally with refugees. Soon they will move overseas to bring the gospel to the unreached. Pray for wisdom, next steps, and a deep sense of God’s presence.