What Can Separate Us From God?

 

During our Watershed study of Romans in the first half of 2012, we spent an evening trying to paraphrase Romans 8:31 - 39. Here are some of our attempts:

God is for us. God's love is always active, always inviting, always persistently working to move us to our deepest identities as sons and daughters of God. God spares nothing, God pours out God's love in our lives, supremely through Jesus who shows us just how dedicated God is to us. Nothing can separate us from this love - not personal, familial or national dysfunction. Not famine, not systemic injustice, not environmental catastrophe, not cancer - no, not even death, even on a global scale! In all these things we win a sweeping victory through the One who loves us and who loves every bit of creation. I say it again: God is for us. It is the basis for any real faith.

If God is for our well-being, than why be anxious about our lives? The God who didn't abandon Jesus when all seemed utterly lost, is the same One who is for us too. Whose authority can question God's love for all? No individual, no structure, no institution, no evil spirit. All are subject to a higher authority! God poured Godself in Christ, and suffered our fragile limitations. If death and sin can be defeated by Love, what are we to be afraid of? Will despair, or mental or physical illness, or political tyranny or economic exploitation, or rage or any human want, divide us from this bubbling up of New Creation? No, no. Beyond our worst fears and our highest hopes, there is a Story of Love that takes all our experiences up into itself!

If God is for us, who is against us? Look, God's Son came to the war-torn country of earth because his Father's imprint of love was on his soul. If he came here and died for love, wouldn't he do it all in a heartbeat again for every war-torn situation? In every place of separation, God is there bridging the gap. He's there in every trouble and distress that befalls our innermost soul and our outermost world. Inner turmoil when physical, emotional or mental health befalls our soul will not win in the end. God's love is stronger. He's there in every disaster when creation itself seems to be collapsing and when animal species are dying out. God's love is stronger. When we get harassed by our personal demons, and when the world is harassed by demons of political corruption and moral decay, we are not separate from God. God's love will always have a way of finding us. God's love is stronger. When physical troubles come upon us and we forget how to pray, God's love is still resting in our souls, healing us and drawing us towards Godself even when appearances seem otherwise. When even a sister turns her back on a sister, God is still there, loving both of them. Nothing can separate either of them from God's love.

So what would we say about the groaning of creation and the suffering involved? If God has our back in any kind of circumstance, what is there to worry about? God's love is so deep that he entered humanity, took on human form and experienced our limitation. This God wants to give us whatever we need in order that we may both receive and share this same kind of Love. This God is worth living for. If God has acquitted those who live in the Spirit of Christ, is there any charge that could be brought against them? If Christ, who died and was raised and now is God's advisor, pleads our case, who is left that can convict us? Will financial ruin or addiction or frustration at the office, or death of a young mother or loneliness or risking lives against dictatorships or neurosis or consumerism or the military-industrial complex or global warming or Enneagramic compulsions or breast cancer or gang violence or depression separate us from Christ's love? Because none of these things can separate us from God's love, ultimately no matter what happens, there is a victory through the love of God in Christ.

What does it mean that God is going to recreate the world through his restored people? With that much spirit‐propelled power urging us forward what or who could ever demean us in the final analysis? God's giving Godself through his Son's life displays the extent of his affection for us. God's love has no cut off point. The universe and more is the limit!

God defends us from the toxic accusations of our least loving enemies. His chief protection is Christ's acquittal of us, God making things right in our lives and releasing us from the guilt of our wrongs. His love shields us from every attack and can never be defeated by any accusation.

His love is there for us in every circumstance, every random event, every strain on our resources, every mocking sneer of a hypocrite. Love is stronger than all the hungers we bear, all our lacks whether of food or clothing or even ecological security. Behind every thrust of the enemies' dagger God's love for our enemy and ourselves stands stalwart.

God loves us when we are victims, when others have it out for us ready to destroy our worth and our lives. Neither victims or oppressors, we are genuinely loved children of God. Contingency, vulnerability and death do not separate us from our Father's love as expressed through our brother Christ.

Misery in life, indignity of death are no match for God's love. Supernatural or ideological forces will not obliterate God's caring presence; doubt, angst and nihilism blow away in the breath of God's spirit. Nor can our postmodern shifting identity obliterate God's fondness for and connection to us. Nothing in creation, no substance, idea, or emotion can create a gap between us and our life‐granting God.

Restored world through restored people? How so?

  Spirit-propelled power surging toward us, urging us forward. Who or what on earth or heaven could demean us? God's love extending God-life in Son's sacrifice has no end, no limit, no cut off. 

Defence from toxic words of least-loving enemies. Protected, acquitted by the Christ who makes right, releases from wrong, sees through the light of mercy. 

Blind circumstance, random event, mocking sneer, hunger we bear, heated globe, … healed through God's enemy love. Oppressor-victims, victim-oppressors
loved children of God all. 

Co-participators in God's suffering, life's misery, death's indignity never separate, constant accompaniment. Sad doubt and despair blown away by the Spirit's breath.  

Nothing in creation, no substance, idea, or emotion can create a gap between us and our life‐restoring God.

 

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