Romans 8:35-37 (esv)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
The Christian life is not easy. And the simple reason is that it goes against the grain of the sinful and fallen world that we live in. The world we live in does not want to acknowledge God. At best they want to marginalize God because they hate the concept. At worst they want to remove God entirely, or create their own ‘gods’ which is in effect the same thing. By shining the light of Jesus onto the darkness of this world, we become ‘agents’ of God, and therefore hated almost as much as He is.
In these verses, Paul quotes from the Psalms, and it brings a theme from the whole Bible – we should not be surprised when we endure suffering for being a Christian. Gods chosen people have always been subject to ridicule and persecution. The Jewish nation has suffered specific persecution since the days of Pharaoh - and right up until modern times. Christians also have no right, as Gods chosen people, to expect a life of ‘peace and prosperity’. Jesus spoke about this in Mark 13:9-13 (esv – emphasis mine):
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
The one thing we can take away from these verses however is that there is a reason for this persecution – that the gospel must be proclaimed. We know that no matter what happens, all things will work out for good. In the example above, some people may be brought before courts of men to testify of their faith – and that is God using the situation for His good, that all will hear the Gospel.
Back to today’s verse in Romans, one of the two keys I want to focus on here is ‘more than conquerors’. In the Greek it literally means ‘overwhelmingly conquer’.
This is not a close battle or a minor victory. It is not a hard fought battle where through better resources, better tactics, more soldiers or better weapons, the greater force overcoming the lesser. It is not a mere battle of men.
This is a decisive victory. Completely, utterly, overwhelmingly conquered. Nothing – at all – can separate us from the love of Christ. And this brings us to the second key.
This decisive victory is through Jesus Christ.
It is not in our power. It is not in our strength, ability, talents, perseverance, or any other things that we could do. This victory – this overwhelming victory, is through Jesus and Jesus alone.
So in the end we are left with a fact – and a promise.
The fact: The Christian life is not an easy one. It may be worse for some than for others – but anyone who calls Jesus Lord goes against the grain of this world, and will suffer in some way for it.
The promise: Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – because He has overwhelmingly conquered any barrier to His love. There is nothing we can do – indeed, nothing we need to do – to remain in His love, because the victory is through Him.
And that is one amazing promise. So amazing it is worth saying again – Nothing can seperate us from the love of Jesus, because he has conquered all barriers. There is nothing you, or anyone else, can do to take His love from you.
Lord God, thank you! Thank you for your love for us. Thank you that there is nothing that can separate us from your love. We know that there was nothing we did to deserve your love – it is unmerited grace that gave it to us in the first place, and your overwhelming power that keeps it with us. There is nothing we can do in the face of this but thank and praise you. Keep your love foremost in our minds this week, no matter what we face. In Jesus Name. Amen.
(Photo: Flickr / Atle G)