The beauty of the present world . . . has something about it of the beauty of a chalice, beautiful in itself but more hauntingly beautiful in what we know it’s meant to be filled with. . . . When we read Romans 8, we find Paul affirming that the whole of creation is groaning in travail as it longs for its redemption. Creation is good, but it is not God. It is beautiful, but its beauty is at present transient. It is in pain, but that pain is taken into the very heart of God and becomes part of the pain of new birth. The beauty of creation, to which art responds and which it tries to express, imitate, and highlight, is not simply the beauty it possesses in itself but the beauty it possesses in view of what is promised to it: back to the chalice, the violin, the engagement ring. We are committed to describing the world not just as it should be, not just as it is, but as—by God’s grace alone!—one day it will be.
~ N. T. Wright ~
[Surprised by Hope]