Freed from futility

by Barry Newton

How many parents have rounded a corner in their house to discover the glee of a youngster hiding inside or building some sort of a chair cushion tunnel or fort? This only touches the hem of furniture misuse. What about the famous sofa trampoline? Sure, it might have been the last bounce ever witnessed on that sofa, nevertheless it happened!

Yet as the kids grow older, household objects are eventually released from such abuse. Admittedly, this occurs sooner in some families than in others.

While adults can easily see how kids can misuse furniture, how perceptive is our vision regarding misusing creation? Creation reveals God’s invisible attributes (Romans 1:20).

Yet how often have people shifted their gaze from the Creator to seek within the created realm what only God can provide? Like a child jumping on furniture, idolatry involves abusing creation. Whether it be another person, some created source of power, some object of our feelings or longings, or even a concoction of such created things, this world was never intended to replace our devotion to God.

Not only does our understanding become darkened and our efforts reek with futility if we seek from creation what it can not provide (Romans 1:21-23), but we subject God’s handiwork to futility. We have corrupted our world.

Yet, Paul envisioned the end of sin’s consequences. He announced that those in Christ are freed from the principle of sin and death (Romans 8:1). Furthermore, he foresaw a time when “creation itself will be delivered from the slavery of moral ruin, into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Romans 8:21 McCord).

What do we see around us? Death and decay march on. Christians still die. Idolatry remains rampant.

What Paul is describing is that coming “splendor that is going to be disclosed to us” (Romans 8:18). The end is not here yet. While Christ has made our redemption possible and we are the redeemed, we are still “expectantly awaiting the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).

And so we along with creation must wait. To borrow Peter’s language, “we await new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). What will it be like? All the saints will be worshiping God. Idolatry and its consequences will be no more.

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