26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Many of you have been to Salkehatchie and many more of you will go in the future. All of you, though, have seen the pictures of Salkehatchie and the amazing work done in such a short amount of time. Entire roofs are replaced, houses receive new foundations, wheelchair ramps appear where there was only a rotten porch, and the lives of the workers and those receiving the work are transformed. I saw first-hand the house one church member was working on this year at Salkehatchie. They replaced nearly 2/3rds of the wall studs along with the exterior paneling on a mobile home…..and this was just the beginning. As is the case with many Salkehatchie houses, once you peel back the outer pieces of the house, you often find your workload for the week immediately doubled. But, at the same time, you must do this so that you can fix the original problems you set out to do in the first place. You have to clear any debris that is in the way in order to see the real problem and to allow those problems to be fixed. At Salkehatchie, debris regularly blocks our ability to fix the many problems the houses have. In life, debris regularly prevents our problems from being fixed as well.
Paul, as we have noticed in this Letter to the Romans, has a knack for powerfully strong language as he reflects on the resurrection of Christ and what it means for his life and indeed all of humanity. We have heard such well-known phrases such as “..no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…,” “we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces character…,” “we are saved by hope…,” “the whole of creation groans…, and last week we heard that we had been “adopted as Children of God.” Add another one to the list as this week’s scripture declares with resurrection hope and confidence that “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That’s right, you read correctly, NOTHING will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! Paul even mentions some of the calamities that people seemed to think could get in the way of God’s love. Life? No. Things present? No. Things to come? No. Powers? Well then surely peril or sword? No. What about famine? Nakedness? Surely at least death!? Quite literally anything?! No. No. No. Nothing. Nada. God’s love for us is inseparable and pursues us to no end.
As I reflect upon my life and the lives of those whose lives I am priviledged to be a part of through ministry, I know there are all sorts of perils in life which might seem to cloud the picture of God’s love for us; to sever our attention from God. There are things which tend to erode our confidence in God’s love. Worry, anxiety, job insecurity, failing marriages, problems in personal relationships, finances, grief, sudden tragedy, anger, pride, destitution, natural disasters are all words that could easily be placed into Paul’s list of things which attempt to separate us from God. With Paul, who faced his own death at the time of this letter, we declare God’s unfailing and inseparable love, even in the worst life has to offer. Like a Salkehatchie house, God’s love cuts through the debris of our lives and straight to the heart of our problems. Talk about powerful statements! God’s love in Christ seeks us out no matter where we are in our lives, where we have been, and where we are going. And the beckoning call of the gospel is to release ourselves to that love and then love other people in the name of Love.
What is the “debris” in your life?
Who can you love in the name of God’s love?
Blessings for the journey,