Trinity 4 2021

Romans 8:18-23

June 27, 2021

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID


Some of the most famous and classic literature of the last century comes CS Lewis’ series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Seven books, the most famous of which is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. One of my favorites, however, is the last one, called The Last Battle, which is about, well, the last battle waged in the land of Narnia.  As the story nears its end, after the battle is fought, the main characters of the book, the children, enter Narnia anew, like but unlike the place they had been before and had fought the great last battle.  Here, in this Narnia everything is more like the real thing.  Colors are truer, everything is brighter.  Everything looked as if it meant more.  Where they had been before was but a shadow and copy of the real thing in which they now stood. They children could run but never get tired or out of breath.  The further up and further on they go the more real everything becomes.  Aslan finally meets them, who represents Jesus in the stories, speaks to the children and explains that they are finally awake, the dream of mortal life had ended, they now live in the time of the resurrection and the new creation.  He describes their lives like a book, in which all their mortal life in the world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page, and now they had just began Chapter 1 of the Great Story which goes on forever, where each chapter is better than the last. 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” So says St. Paul in our Epistle this morning, from Romans 8.  CS Lewis does as good as anyone could in trying to illustrate the incomparable nature of our life here on earth and our eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth.  As we live now it is only the front cover and title page of the book of life, in which the names of the those redeemed by Christ are written. 

That is not to say that your current suffering is insignificant. While we are here, our life is mixed with suffering. St. Paul doesn’t hide the fact, nor overlook the seriousness and the effects of sin.  We certainly know that we don’t live as we should.  Life is hard, harder than it should be. The world is evil, and evil is done to and upon you. It shouldn’t be, it wasn’t meant to be, but for Adam’s sin and for yours and for the world’s, it is. Cancer, deafness, and diabetes are evil.  Heart failure and blocked arteries; bullies, injustice, cheaters. God did not mean for you to live this way: with divorce and custody battles, interest and late fees, unrealized dreams, and unresolved conflicts. He did not mean for you to be lonely, afraid, or angry in the dark. He did not mean for you to ever know guilt, shame, and regret; for life to be so unfair and so fickle; for your heart to be broken or to go numb. You groan within yourself. You groan because it is not over yet. Your day has not yet come. You still suffer and endure.

And you are not alone.  Until that time comes when Christ returns, even creation itself longs for your redemption.  St. Paul says that creation itself groans for Christ to rend the heavens wide and come down and give birth to the new creation. Even the sun, the moon, and every creature are captive to the fallenness of sin and the power of the devil.  Misery loves company, and Adam’s sin enslaved all creation.  Heat waves, earthquakes, storms, all come because of sin.

The answer isn’t to live your best life now, for now is not your best life.  The answer isn’t environmentalism, which is a sort of paganism that turns creation into an idol and climate control into self-righteousness. The answer isn’t zero emission cars or reducing your carbon footprint.  Yes, we are to be good stewards of God’s creation, but the salvation of creation is found in the salvation of mankind. That is to say, in Jesus.  In this way, St. Paul traces the cross over all creation. It is only by the cross of Christ that redemption, restoration, and renewal comes. 

You have been subjected to this evil in hope: Our Redeemer lives. It will not last. Death cannot win for death is long dead.  You are frail and subject to sorrow, frustration, and pain. So was Our Lord. He wept. He sweated blood. He was in anguish. He groaned in compassion. He knew both physical and spiritual agony in death. You long for justice and for mercy. So did Our Lord. He wept for Jerusalem. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He raised the dead. You long to be relieved of present suffering. So did our Lord.  Which is why He came to die for you in the first place.  We wait in hope for the consummation of the world to be our genuine life. 

We wait for a salvation not just of our own, but for all of creation who eagerly awaits our redemption, the time of Christ’s return, our bodily resurrection to stand upon the ground of the new heavens and new earth.  St. Peter also speaks in this way.  In his second letter, he states, “but according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). 

St. Paul says that this will happen at the revealing of the sons of God, the redemption of our bodies.  That’s an important statement here.  This redemption, our full and final salvation, lies in the resurrection.  The bodily resurrection from the dead.  Where you will be you.  Every funeral the Bible passage is read from Philippians 3:21, usually over the grave, that we commit the body of the deceased to the Lord’s care, to keep it to the day of resurrection, as we await with a certain hope, this day when Christ will bodily raise all people from the dead change our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body by the power that enables Him to subdue all things to Himself. This is no disembodied future, no life floating among the clouds, but flesh and blood, raised from the dead, perfected and glorified bodies.  Like but unlike your life now but more real. 

So you who believe in Christ should be assured and certain of eternal glory, and together with all creation cry out that Jesus would hurry up and bring in the blessed day when our hope will be fulfilled. 

May God give us grace and patience to firmly believe that we will come to that glory. We are not baptized into this present life, but for eternal life.  We don’t hear the Gospel for this life only, but to spend eternity with Jesus, literally and bodily face to face. May God that blessed day of our redemption and glory would come soon and we may experience all that we now hear and believe in the Word. God grant us this to us all. Amen.