Professor Twist (Romans 8:18-25)

I really do not like poetry that much, nor did I ever have much educational exposure to this literary form. But for some reason, this poem of Ogden Nash has remained stuck within my mind from some primordial English class – many, many, many years ago… “The Purest” – by Ogden Nash

I give you now Professor Twist,

A conscientious scientist,

Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!

"And sent him off to distant jungles.

Camped on a tropic riverside,

One day he missed his loving bride.

She had, the guide informed him later,

Been eaten by an alligator.

Professor Twist could not but smile.

"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."

Can’t you just see a professor of zoology, noting the emphasis upon the difference between a crocodile and an alligator, instead of grieving the loss of his wife, whatever the creature?

Thinking about the epic journey theme of “this Christian life” raises to the surface a number of the large, difficult questions we grapple to understand. Like this one: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” A more theologically accurate way of asking that question might be, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”  We are sinful people in an evil world subject to all that the curse of sin affects. Paul wrote of the condition of man in Romans 3, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”

As I wrote two days ago, I am often stunned at the expectation of so many Christian people that God owes them a life free of pain and sadness in this world. The fact of the matter is that tragedy is as likely to find its way to our address as it is to that of our unbelieving neighbor. God’s promise is not so much a deliverance from tribulations as it is a perseverance through them, and final ultimate rescue by our eternal translation to a better world. Troubles come to us as the natural result of our continued residency in a cursed world. Look at how Paul wrote about it…

RO 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

 RO 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wat for it patiently.

See what Paul is saying? The creation is subject to decay because of the effects of sin in this world. This accounts for natural tragedies and the like that strike both the righteous and the wicked. There will be a better day for the world… but not just for the creation.  Paul says that we too groan in our sufferings as we await the fulfillment of God’s promise to redeem our bodies in accord with our standing as His adopted family. This is our hope.  It is not our current experience… for if it were, it would not be hope at all.  No, it would be heaven now, and that is not the way the story works!

No, we are in the midst of our journey. By God’s grace, there is much joy and pleasure in this adventure. Yet, sadness and difficulties are part of the deal as well.  But God is good all the time; and all the time, God is good… and that truth is more than enough to carry us through whatever may come our way.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

2 thoughts on “Professor Twist (Romans 8:18-25)

  1. You made an interesting point. “The fact of the matter is that tragedy is as likely to find its way to our address as it is to that of our unbelieving neighbor.”

    I think this is roughly true. Sometimes following Christ helps people live better, more responsible lives and this tends to lead to less problems in life.

    That though is counteracted by Christians standing out for righteousness sake and being persecuted for doing right — for doing good and for following Christ. So in such situations people suffer more for following Christ. Also people can serve others even to the point of their own detriment or suffering.

    There are some scriptures that pop into my mind to illustrate each of these points.

    However since I worked last night and didn’t sleep yet … if anyone else is interesting in putting up some scriptures — that will be appreciated. Can hardly keep my eyes open now.

  2. Now that I might have a moment I’ll add some of the scriptures that I had in mind yesterday, and I’ve got another one or so too!

    Psalm 119:98 “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies”

    Then there is the whole book of Proverbs to provide wisdom and prudence for daily living. Advice about working hard, and giving advice about what friends will do when you are poor … about how to find knowledge … about how to judge character and understanding about how people react in different situations.

    Then throughout scripture we see that there are times when God helps us and other times he delays in helping in us for various reasons. Yet he lets us know that character and devotion to him are worth far more than other things that humans value.

    While humans value strength, wisdom and wealth — God delights in those who fear him.

    So the Bible can help us live responsible lives and keep us from harm that may result in us doing evil deeds … for it teaches us not to do evil deeds!

    On the other hand we as Christians don’t always “blend in” or fit in very well with society and we might be persecuted for doing good.

    Amos 5:13 Suggests that we even tend to keep quiet in times when there is so much wickedness. “Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.”

    Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

    Peter even warned about suffering as a meddler. “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” 1 Peter 4:15

    Yet a number of other scriptures suggest that there are times that it is quite impossible to not suffer for doing good.

    1 Peter 3:13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
    14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”
    15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
    16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

    Matthew 5: 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
    12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


    Here is a scripture I was thinking of.

    Isaiah 59:14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.
    15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.

    So, verse 15 is a scripture that shows that while sometimes doing good and avoiding evil can be good for us … at other times doing good and avoiding evil exposes us to persecution and suffering for doing good.

    It is hard to know what life will bring. In any case after this life is all over – our inheritance in Jesus will remain … and though it takes faith to believe this – we have been given faith through the preaching of the word of God and through the reading of it too.

    Paul after all his persecutions said that if in this life only he had hope in God — he would of all men be most miserable. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

    Yet he had great joy and commanded us in Philippians to “Rejoice always.”

    And Jesus talked about Joy too.

    John 15:8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
    9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
    10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
    11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
    12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
    13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
    14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

    Jesus gave an amazing and deep prayer that touched upon his love for us and the love we should have for each other, for going into the world and he acknowledged that we (his followers) would be persecuted for following him too.

    John 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
    14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
    15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
    16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
    17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
    18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
    19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
    21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
    22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one–
    23 I in them and you in me– so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
    24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
    25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.
    26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

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