Romans 8:35 (NIV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As I read our Verse of the Day, I just had to smile! This is one of my “go-to” passages when I need affirmation; when I need to be reminded the love of God in Christ Jesus is unconditional and everlasting! In fact, to me, the entire Romans Chapter 8 is uplifting! It is here that I am told there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. It is here that God affirms His Son met the righteous requirement of law for me and sent His Holy Spirit to live in me. It is here that I come to understand how a life lived in the Spirit sets me free from the bondage of sin and unites me with God. It is here the Father confirms to me that I am His child. It is here that I find trust in the sovereign plan of God for my life … that He works all things for my good. Yes, it is here that God affirms He is for me and not against me. It is here God affirms that He loves me with an inseparable, unfailing love because He gave me to His Son. Indeed, it is here I become overwhelmed with the Good News of Jesus … the love of God who IS my life!
Paul asks a very salient question in our Verse of the Day: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” As he courses through the possible answers, Paul comes to the conclusion that NOTHING will be able to separate us from His love. But perhaps we might ask another question: “Who joined us … who united us to His incomprehensible love?” Through the Scriptures, we have come to understand that our relationship with God through His Son is totally 100% HIS Work! He is the initiator! God loved us first! This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (Cf. 1 John 4:10) His love was not a response to our goodness or righteousness. His love was not merited or earned by any of us. We were dead in our trespasses and sins! But God made us alive in Christ! He resurrected us in Christ! (Cf. Ephesians 2:1-10; Colossians 2:13-14) Why? Because God, in Christ, was reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses against them. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19) So, if God has the will and power to join us to Himself; then the answer to the question of who can separate us from Him is ‘No one!” No one can separate us from His love!
Paul then moves on to the question: “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Paul implies that as Christians we will have problems in this world. As Jesus foretold, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Cf. John 16:33) So, can these troubles, hardships, trials, sufferings, or dangers separate us from God? Paul asserts it is not possible. Indeed, there is historical precedence that God allows His people to suffer even when there is no apparent reason … no rebellion, disobedience, or sin … that would justify the “punishment” of suffering. (Cf. Psalm 44) Or think about the sufferings of righteous Job. Shall we allow feelings or perceptions of injustice on the part of God to permeate our reactions to the difficult circumstances He might allow us to suffer? Maybe we should take a deep breath and consider the righteousness of God. Perhaps it is not that God has withheld or removed His love … His holy, unfailing, and everlasting love; rather, there is a greater purpose that the Father has in mind when He permits suffering to occur in our lives. I think Peter expressed this thought quite well when he wrote:
1 Peter 3:13-18 (NIV)
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” (Citing Isaiah 8:12) 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
There it is! Jesus Christ, the only sinless human to ever walk upon the earth, was allowed by God to SUFFER for our sins … the righteous for the unrighteous … in order to do what? To bring you and I to God! Oh, how our Lord Jesus was allowed to suffer incomprehensible torture and a merciless death upon that cross. I cannot even imagine it…. Yet, because of the love of God, Jesus was triumphant through His resurrection! He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit! This is an example for us who believe … to be victorious over suffering and affliction. Why? When we rise above the people and things of this world that have the potential to crush our spirits and cause us to doubt the love of God … when we reject the temptation to entertain the lies of Satan that God has abandoned and forsaken us … when we renounce the voice that says God does not love us and only wants to inflict His wrath upon us … we too will become triumphant over the testing of suffering!
Indeed, how WE handle suffering can greatly influence others around us; and our victorious example could even lead them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we have been afforded sufficient grace … ALL SUFFICIENT grace to experience victories that ultimately will glorify the Father. For it will be evident that except for the grace of God we could not have endured or persevered through those circumstances in which we have suffered. His grace and love IS the testimony of believers! And, perhaps, that is at least a partial answer as to why God permits suffering in our lives. Through suffering we learn submission … we learn obedience … we become humbled … and God is glorified!
When we consider all that Paul suffered in his endeavors to share and spread the Gospel message, it is encouraging that he would still conclude:
Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Is this not the greatest news a person could ever receive? Oh, my friends, I pray you will never question the love that God has for you. His love is not dependent upon your perfection. His love is given because of your imperfection! His love and grace are ever-present in all circumstances and situations. God simply wants you and me to come to Him through the way He has prepared for us to come to Him: Christ Jesus, His Son! And NOTHING can, nor ever will, separate you from His unsurpassed love….
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one. ~ John 10:27-30