20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,
21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Romans 8:20-22 (NLT)
Do you find the title strange for a Christian article? In fact this is best title I can think of for the above passage. I will begin by explaining what this law means. In order to do that, I would like to bring you back to the past, the beginning of Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution began in the late 18 century in Europe. Its main driving force was the invention of steam engine. The steam engine works by boiling water and channel its steam to specific areas to move things. Unfortunately such engines can be very dangerous. Explosions happened when the boilers were overheated. This had lead scientists to study the relationship between heat and matter which resulted in the birth of Thermodynamics. Today, Thermodynamics is not limited to boilers alone. It is also used in the study of cosmology.
In order for us to understand the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, we need to understand the First Law. Here we go. The First Law Of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed; rather, the amount of energy lost in a steady state process cannot be greater than the amount of energy gained. It means energy changes form. For example, if you light up a candle, the energy stored in the candle wax will change form into heat and light of the flame. The energy loss in the candle is equal to the energy gained in the form of heat and light of the candle flame.
The Second Law Of Thermodynamics states that energy systems have a tendency to increase their entropy. Entropy refers to disorder. Let us get back to the example of the candle. The energy stored in the candle is orderly. However, when we light it up, the energy in the candle will change form into light and heat. The light and heat will dissipate into the environment. This process is irreversible. There is no way we can collect back the light and heat and change it back into the original candle again. This is called entropy.
The Second Law Of Thermodynamics basically tells us that the universe we are living in is gradually decaying and breaking apart. There is no hope for the future if you look at it in the cosmic scale.
God knew about this law long before the Second Law Of Thermodynamics was officially discovered. He has recorded it in the above verse. Let us look into them.
Verse 20 tells us that against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse but with eager hope. The question here, what is that curse and hope? The next verse tells us the answer.
Verse 21 says the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Christians who are God’s children will enjoy such glorious freedom that we will be forever free from death and decay. Not only that, the entire creation will join us in this freedom.
Now we can answer the question in Verse 20. Obviously God’s curse refers to the Second Law Of Thermodynamics while the “hope” refers to the day where the Second Law Of Thermodynamics no longer works. Things will no longer fall apart, decay or die. God has promised us that all these will happen soon.
Verse 22 says all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. God used the phase “pains of childbirth” to describe the creation. What does “pains of childbirth” mean? First it refers to intense pain. Second, there is new life coming forth. I believe most mothers will agree that the joy of receiving the new life is worth more than the pain. This means the rewards will be far greater than the sufferings we endure.
This verse ends with “present time”. Which “present time” was the writer referring to? Obviously it must be the time that verse was written. He must be referring to the time after Jesus died and rose again. He was referring to the rise of Christians. Our presence in this world marks the beginning of the new age of God’s presence in the world.
As Christians, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our presence is God’s presence. Where do you want God to be in? All you have to do is to go there yourself. How do we apply this knowledge? If you happen to living or working in a certain place where there is no other Christians, chance are God wants to reach out to these people. He wants them to know that he loves them and to help them. You happen to be his representative. If you don’t look good, God doesn’t look good.
If you are living in poverty and sickness, you are telling others that your God is sick and poor. Who do you think will be attracted to such a person? Who would want to trust in a God who cannot even takes care of himself? So, the lesson here is, start living the life God wants you to live. This is the time for us to shine and stop the decay of this world.