“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22 – 23)
I am going to address this head on – and then see where it leads. (If I don’t “chicken out” first!) What part of us will be redeemed in the life to come? Our souls? And what constitutes a human soul? Thoughts and feelings? Understandings and intellect? Or is it the life spark that animates our human fleshly form? Because, beloved reader, these questions lead to other questions, which leads to a whole conversation that I do not think anyone is ready to have at this moment!
Or is the redemption of our being, meaning our bodies, but without all the evil and sin that is assumed is intertwined in bone, sinew, and muscle? And I do not think it would be helpful to “consult” the biblical commentators – not tempted. I really do not want to know what Paul’s perspective would be, or any other person – not even Albert Barnes!
That creation is groaning might lead us to believe it is flesh – mortal stuff – that needs “re-doing”. That is dependent however on how one regards creation; is it sinful and fallen too?
“For in hope we were saved.” (Verse 24a)
I hope, beloved reader, that when we come into the world to come or are welcomed into heaven, that we will be bodies that have been cleansed thoroughly and are not longer subject to the temptations that are part of the world that on mass has walked away from the Divine. I hope that whatever made us “us” is retained.
“Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?” (Verse 24b)
Paul has turned from his opening comments; or at least the way I read them. Now we are on to something else. His point is that if we see what is before us – and realized that reality, boundaries, and properties – we can not make it into something else. It is what it is. Wishful thinking is not going to change what is seen.
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Verse 25)
Or we try to wait for it with patience.
Paul is very reality-based. But he is very hopeful too. An interesting combination. Paul has a vision of what the “redemption of our bodies” is going to be. And from I know of Paul, he does not think that much of the physical body we have know is worth making over for the world to come.
It has been a personal journey for me, beloved reader, to realize that what a person looks like and what abilities and dis-abilities a person has does not need to be remade in the world to come. Those things will not matter any more. Praise to the Divine!
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Verses 26 – 27)
As to our “weakness” in/for prayer, there are feelings in the human psyche that are too deep for words. But not too deep for the Divine to know, see and understand them. That we do not have words that accurately express the deepest longings in our heart/soul/spirit/mind/psyche (take your pick) is not a deficit but is testimony to the complexity that is humanity. Paul says the Spirit helps to express to the Divine. I say the Lord God knows because the Spirit is an aspect of the Divine. So of course it is known.
Consider beloved reader – when Jesus ascended into heaven, it was the resurrected body of Jesus Christ that was knowable and recognizable to the disciples/apostles. And that is why my hope and faith is anchored in the beliefs I expressed above.
May you, beloved reader, discern for your self what you believe. And may what you hopeful someday become a reality for you. Shalom & Selah!