I caught myself. I was doing exactly what I talked about in my last post. I was making it all about me. And honestly, as I re-read that scripture I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about it or heard it taught in any other context than “me.’
Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I read that my automatic response is overwhelming gratitude that God loves me, that nothing can separate me from His love. I’m not suggesting that it’s completely wrong, because obviously, I am a part of the US. God does in fact, love me and has chosen me, called me and made me right with Himself like it says in Romans 8:29-30, but even that is written in a plurality and if I make it all about me I am missing part of the richness of the text.
So let’s talk about why I love this scripture and what stood out to me today as I read it with a different perspective. We can clearly see that having Christ’s love does not give us exemption from difficult times. In fact, it may even guarantee some of them. However, we remember God’s love isn’t just for ME, but it’s for US. This means that when those things come I am not alone. I am surrounded by a community that is experiencing the same difficulty and we have the opportunity, responsibility to support each other. If the world will know us by our love (John 13:35) perhaps this is the kind of love is what Jesus meant. His love displayed among the community of believers. Standing united, caring, and supporting each other through all of life’s difficulties.
Truly God’s love for us cannot be conquered. God’s love for us is stronger than death and nothing can destroy it. His love is an enduring, patient, and everlasting love. Should our love for each other be any less? Why do we allow the love within our communities to be so easily diminished by our differences? We are one people with many different experiences, ways of seeing the world, thought patterns and it isn’t surprising that we will have different theological or political perspectives. We must stop confusing unity of beliefs with unity in the Spirit. Agreement is not a prerequisite of love. If it were Christ would not have died for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
It is my sincere prayer that we would be one people, unified in the love that Jesus has given to us. If we cannot love each other, how can we share that love with the world? Because again, Jesus’ sacrifice is about so much more than me. I’m grateful that He died for me, but I’m even more grateful that it wasn’t just for me. Jesus died for the whole world so that all might come to know Him. Church, let’s live like it. Let’s love like it.