Paul: Week 2
History Is on an Inevitable Course
Sunday, March 13, 2016
As I shared last week, Paul believed that history and all of creation are headed toward a radical union, which he called pleroma, “the fullness” (Colossians 1:19, Ephesians 1:10). But the journey is presented as slow and grueling, as you can sense in his ecstatic and paramount writing in Romans 8:18-39. Read this passage, beautifully paraphrased by Eugene Peterson:
I don’t think there is any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. This created world itself can hardly wait for what is coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back now. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment. Meanwhile the joyful anticipation deepens.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. We are also feeling the birth pangs. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. [This is what I call “negativity capability,” or the rubber band pulled back which increases the momentum forward.]
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing [the Godself] to the worst by sending [God’s] own Son, is there anything else [God] wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? . . . Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing. . . . None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” 
Gateway to Silence:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7
 Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary English (NavPress: 1993), 322-323.