Sometimes Bible passages don’t seem to speak to us because we are far removed from the times and circumstances of the audience for which they were originally written. To feel the power of God’s word to us, we may need to contextualize the text – bring it into our time and our circumstances. For example, today’s reading from Romans 8:28-39 is a strong passage written to assure us of God’s love in Christ. The apostle Paul asks several rhetorical questions that he invites us to try to answer, but there is really no answer possible given what God has done in His Son. So Paul concludes this passage by asking if there is anything that can separate us from the love of Christ. He rattles off things of concern and flatly declares that they cannot come between us and God’s love.
But again, perhaps bringing the text into our current mess would help us feel the power of what Paul is declaring. We could legitimately paraphrase verses 35-39 this way:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall coronaviruses and quarantining, government mandates or meat shortages, economic gridlock and downturn, bankruptcy and job loss, riots in the city and violence in the neighborhood, police injustice and unjust responses to that injustice, loss of property, hurricanes or tropical storms, being hospitalized on a ventilator, or even the loss of life? Not a chance. Death is always a possibility. But even in the face of all these possibilities, we overcome, we triumph, we are victorious by faith through the One who loves us with an everlasting love.
For I am convinced that neither the challenges of living nor the challenges of dying, neither COVID-19 nor the isolation, loneliness, depression or psychological distress that has come from it, neither the powers of our government nor that of foreign powers, nor even cosmic powers and spiritual principalities, neither good angels nor the fallen bad angels, nor anything going on now or anything coming down the future’s pike toward us, nothing in the far reaches of space or in the depths of the sea, nothing in heaven or on earth or in hell itself, nothing, absolutely nothing and no one has the ability to come between us and the love of God. Nothing can pry us from His love. Nothing can turn His love away. Nothing can dry up His love or cause its incessant flow to come to an end. Nothing in you, nothing in your spouse or your kids or your neighbor, not your doubts, not your skepticism, not your unbelief, not your foolishness. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And that’s about all that needs to be said. Except this….
You gotta believe it to experience it and to live into it. Won’t you trust God’s promises today? After all, they’re for you.