“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
The earth is groaning. It longs for the day when the children of God will be fully revealed. Until then, creation is subjected to our will without the means to protest. Yes, we damage ourselves when we misuse the things around us for our own selfish purposes, but the world also feels the strain. We place the weight of our worship on the backs of created things and then beat them when they fail to produce the lasting fulfillment that only God can give.
Creation was meant to bring glory to God; that is the purpose of the good things in the world. But since the garden, we use them as instruments of our own exaltation or build shrines to the things themselves. So creation groans, longing for the day when we will finally worship God and rightfully use everything around us to glorify him. On that day, creation will be freed from its bondage. The pain of childbirth will give way to hope fulfilled that can be held like a newborn child.
“Music itself is groaning with the rest of creation. It is longing to be set free from its captivity.”
Music is bound by our corruption, “subjected to the futility” of its misapplication in our hands. Its ultimate purpose isn’t just to stir up emotion, although we use it to create incredible experiences. Music’s purpose isn’t to make us wealthy, although it is universally desirable and therefore has great value. Even when we create excellent music “for its own sake,” something is still amiss. That’s because it isn’t meant to be worshipped; it was made to bring glory to God. It breathes a sigh of relief when it is used to that end—to stir our affections in worship of the one true God. In all of its other mistreatments, music “groans” together with the rest of the mistreated world.
Even now, there is freedom for us in the presence of God. His in-breaking kingdom creates pockets of the coming reality in our here-and-now: healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, and redemption. Music is a medium for those promised future occurrences to happen in the “not quite yet” present. But more than that, music itself is swept up in the limited redemption that foreshadows the immanent wholeness of the world under Jesus’ reign.
When we artfully create worship music, we give it a brief respite from the “pains of childbirth” that it currently experiences. That particular piece of creation is momentarily relieved of its bondage. That’s what happens whenever the kingdom-to-come affects the current reality through God’s present workings. It’s the healing of a disease, the forgiveness of a debt, the restoration of something that looked rusted beyond repair—a glimpse of heaven on earth. It happens through the obedience of his children as they live according to his law instead of their own.
When we experience the transformative work of God, so does creation. Our fates are intertwined. As we find our worth in worshipping God, we cease to abuse the things that he has made. When we experience the freedom of God in his presence, we are better able to live out the implications of that new life in our day-to-day environment.
Picture this. One day, the “new life” within us will be all around us, as creation finally obtains “the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” God’s completed work in our hearts will allow us to perfectly obey and glorify him, and the world will be freed from our exploitation. Until that day comes, we must strive to live out the implications of the redemption that is at work inside us. The earth itself is crying out for relief.
Special thanks to Guy Crowley. The above quote is from him and greatly helped to shape this work
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