At the beginning of this study I said that relationship is at the heart of our Christian faith. God created us to be in relationship with us. We see this very clearly in Genesis 3, when we are told that in the cool of the evenings God would walk in the Garden with Adam and Eve. Of course, the very next thing to happen is Adam and Eve’s sin, which broke that relationship.
God, however, was not content with that broken relationship. The rest of the Bible is the story of God’s work for redemption, God’s work to restore us to right relationship once again. This is my personal definition of redemption: to restore to right relationship.
One of the best examples from scripture of a relationship with God is David. David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) and is often lifted up as Israel’s ideal king. God seems very pleased with David, and blesses him with a prosperous kingship, long life, and even a personal covenant for David’s family.
But David was not a perfect man, and was quite often less than an ideal king. David’s actions and inactions as king led to a lot of strife for his kingdom, and many people died because of David’s poor choices. Most notable is when David forced himself on Bathsheba, tried to cover up her subsequent pregnancy, and eventually had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11 and 12). As a father David was no winner; his willingness to turn a blind eye to his children’s behavior led to incestuous rape, homicide and a bloody revolution (2 Samuel 13-19).
Why, then, is David remembered with such fondness?
In spite of all the evil David committed and was a part of, God still loved David (as God loves all of us), and sought to remain in relationship with him. When confronted by his own evil deeds, David repented, genuinely repented. It was after the prophet Nathan confronted David about his actions against Bathsheba that David penned Psalm 51, perhaps the greatest prayer of repentance ever written.
It is in David’s repentance that God was able to redeem David, to restore him from a relationship broken by sin and evil to a right relationship of love.
Similar to David, we remember Peter as a great disciple of Jesus Christ. Of course, as you read the Gospels, you see Peter get a lot of things wrong, even three times denying he knew Jesus. I love John 21, when Jesus and Peter are face to face after the resurrection. Jesus does not accuse Peter of anything, does not hold him accountable for his denials. Instead, Jesus asks him, “Do you love me?” three times, allowing him to repent for each of those denials. Jesus gives him the commandment after each repentance, “Feed my sheep.” As a redeemed follower of Christ, Peter is sent to care for others.
God has always been in the work of redemption, of restoring us to right relationship. God has also always been in the work of including us in the work, calling us to follow God’s leading, to imitate God, and to work for the redemption of others.
Let us not forget that our relationship with God is not the only relationship we are in, nor is it the only relationship that is broken by our sins. When Adam and Eve are confronted by God about their sin, they are quick to cast blame on the other and make excuses. One of the results of their sin is a curse upon the ground. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God told them that if they lived wickedly the land itself would suffer drought, famine and pestilence; there would be no abundant life in the Promised Land if the people continued to live in broken and breaking relationships.
Christians, we are in relationship with God, with one another, and with all of creation. Our sins, our selfishness, our evil ways break these relationships, and cause damage to the planet and all who live on it. Paul tells us,
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God, for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its enslavement to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning together as it suffers together the pains of labor, 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 8:19-23
God does not want to redeem only us, but all of creation. Creation is groaning, waiting for the day that redemption will happen. So, what is God waiting on?
I believe God is waiting on us.
God has called us to the work of redemption.
God has equipped us with the gifts needed for redemption.
God has placed us in creation.
The question, then, is not, “What is God waiting on?”
The question is, “What are we waiting on?”