In [arguably] the worst moment in [major] movie history happened in 1996 as I sat in a movie theatre with my girlfriend and while watching “Jerry McGuire” with her. The movie climaxed when Tom Cruise burst into his wife’s home, looked into her eyes and said the famous words, “You complete me.” (watch here) If you remember Cruise had just experienced the height of his professional career only to find out it was not what he had expected. He expected joy and found loneliness. He expected fulfillment and found emptiness. He was a man in the throes of finding out that what he had always pursued was not what he truly needed or desired.
Maguire was right about one thing: Incompleteness marks our current life. No matter how hard we try, fulfillment is always just out of reach. For unbelievers, the pursuit of fulfillment will feel like eternally chasing a moving target until Jesus becomes the object of their longing. However, even for the believer, there is a real sense that we have not found what we are looking for.
Completion is only found in Christ, through His death for our sin and resurrection from the grave, but it’s not a complete reality until we stand in our resurrected bodies in the presence of our Savior. This won’t happen until Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 come to pass: “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The return of Jesus and final restoration are the human hope, nothing less.
Suffering is not eternal, but the glory upon which we wait is. Jesus is going to return, and when He does, we will share in the fullness of His glory. When we do, the text says we will experience two things: adoption as sons, which is the redemption of our bodies, and a new earth free from the weight of sin. Since the text says creation is waiting to “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God,” these are not separate statements but one united reality that will take place when the glorious trumpets sound and the Servant returns as King.
As we wait for this day, incompleteness defines our lives because we live as adopted children who have not yet been picked up by our parents. We know our parents’ names, know they have paid for our adoption, know the adoption has been approved but stand on the curb with bags packed waiting on them to come and tell us, “You’re home.” This is true for all believers from all centuries. Those living today and those who have entered the presence of the Lord await the completion of our adoption in the redemption of our bodies.
This is the Christian hope into which we were saved. We know that Jesus has already paid for our adoption, but we wait for the Father to send Him for us to renew our home and dwell among us eternally as we experience our resurrected bodies and the fullness of His glory. This is a salvation about so much more than just “going to heaven when we die.” This is restoration, redemption and renewal. This is going from enemies of God to sons and daughters of God, co-heirs with Christ. This is living fully in the image of God the way He intended. Oh what a day that will be. Come Lord Jesus, come.
Until Christ’s return, Paul gives us an example of how to groan in view of eternity. He exemplifies how to view the hardships of a fallen world through the lens of the eternal glory we await. To live in light of eternity does not mean demotions and cancer are not painful. It means they are not crushing. Cancer is painful because death is the last enemy to be conquered, but it’s not crushing because it’s only a matter of time before our resurrection conquers all disease. It means that loneliness is not something only our single brothers and sisters experience. We all experience loneliness because marriage is not the solution to the human condition. It’s a gift and an image that represents the substance for which we all long.
The substance that brings fulfillment and ends loneliness is standing face to face with our beloved, Jesus Christ. To stand face to face, two things must take place: He must return, and our flesh must be the redeemed, resurrected body to come. When fully grasping our hope, we can endure any suffering because we know it is temporary, and the glory to come is eternal. Until that day, we strive for a steadfast hope, we wait with patience, and we stand confident that our Savior will appear to bring completion to the adoption we long for.
This is Resurrection…