If Paul’s questions begin with favor and generosity, it makes sense that his finale would be the love of God: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (35a). The familiar passage continues: “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 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 (8:35b-39).”
The question of God’s love is the most basic one of all. What might come between me and Christ’s deep care for me? My own failures? But Paul says no ‘depth’ will separate me from God’s love in Christ. There is no trouble, difficulty, opposition, scarcity, exposure, or threat that can rise up and block the effective care of Jesus for me. Nothing. Never. Period. I am empowered to live my life as a conquerer through Jesus. I can even be “more than a conqueror.”
But even with these assuring words, I feel the twin temptations rise up with questions of their own: “What have you failed to do that would increase God’s love for you?” and “What have you done that will diminish God’s love for you?” If I focus on what I feel are God’s disappointed expectations or realizations, I will fail to rest confidently in unfailing love. I don’t want to waste one moment allowing corrosive questions like these to linger.
There is nothing—no thing—anytime or anywhere that Jesus will ever allow to come between you and Him. His love will always overcome whatever threatens to make a gap in your relationship with Him. He is always and actively closing that gap. It doesn’t exist from his side, even if it seems to from ours. Am I living as though there were something I could do that would diminish the potency, power or presence of the love of Father, Son and Spirit for me? Do I really think I’m that powerful? Silly. Very silly.
Paul wrote something about the love of God that help me here:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
Jesus, your death for me and for other ungodly persons like me was evidence of the depth of your love. It was never based on our goodness or our remarkable performance. It might have made some sense for you to die for a worthy person, but you loved enough to die for an unworthy person like me. I haven’t done anything to deserve such status. But I can’t do anything to undeserve it either. It is a gift that I want to keep on receiving.
So, more surely than water runs downhill, the love of Jesus flows towards me. More surely than the sun rises each and every morning of my life, the love of Jesus rises me meet me in every moment. More surely than there is air for me to breath in every moment, there is always the love of Jesus for me to rest in.
RESPONSE: “How can God’s love be unfailing in light of what I’ve done? Of what’s been done to me?” What in my life threatens to put distance between me and the Father’s love? How does the Father answer those nagging voices, “He would love me more if…” or “He loves me less now that…”
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