In Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. In this passage, Paul, a great man of faith, reminds us that nothing can get between us and God’s Love
ROMANS 8: 35 -39 MSG; SAFE IN GOD’S LOVE
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
For a man who never spent time with Jesus, may never even have seen him except in a vision, Paul has amazing faith. He is convinced that because Jesus has “embraced” him nothing can separate him from God’s love. Apprentices would say,”Paul lives in the unshakable Kingdom of God. No matter what happens to him, he is safe.”
How did Paul get that faith? Here’s the story. Paul obtained arrest warrants from the Chief Priest in Jerusalem. He was traveling to Damascus and intended to take people of “The Way” that he met in synagogues as prisoners. On his way to Damascus he was confronted by “a light from heaven,” fell to the ground, and then spoke with Jesus in a vision. When he got up from the ground, he realized he was blind. He was led “by hand” into Damascus. Meanwhile a disciple in Damascus also had a vision. He was to visit Paul to give him a message that he would be filled by the Holy Spirit and that his sight would be restored. Everything happened as God directed.
Later as stories of Paul’s preaching reached Jerusalem, another messenger from God, Barnabas, introduces him to the disciples (after they had already refused to see him) and convinces them to accept Paul. So Paul begins his ministry. During this ministry, he is threatened with death, shipwrecked, pursued, spends time in jail – including one two-year sentence, is beaten, experiences chronic ill-health, is the cause of a riot, works as a tent make. He also changes the world as he preaches to the Gentiles. This is the story of a man who puts his life in the hands of God, believing that he is safe whether he lives or dies.
♥ What do you fear that could cause you to lose your faith if it materialized? We often fear and then question the death of loved ones, destruction caused by hurricanes, hunger, the refugee crisis, the murderous atmosphere in the world, etc. We ask how could a loving God allow these things. Paul seems not to be bothered by these questions, perhaps because he has survived so much. He reminds us that the nothing that happens to us can get between us and the love of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you feel safe in God’s love.
♥ We have opened the door into a new year – a time when people traditionally examine their lives and consider changes. Times are ripe for a strong Christian witness. What is keeping you from living a life of courage, from speaking what you believe, from setting the example in our world that Paul did in his? Ask God for the courage to understand and then collaborate with God in his will for your life.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“The entire chapter [Romans 8) functions as the 9-1-1 of a Christian, and every believer could use Romans 8 as a prayer template because the language Paul uses [is] indeed a Holy mystery. Thus, being in the Holy Spirit is similar to being in a winning battle whose victory is assured (Romans 8:31-39).
All humans experience frustrations, life challenges, ministry mountains, tragedies, and moments of desperation. Yet, the Apostle Paul assures us that God through the Son and the Holy Spirit has guaranteed victory, and that all can be assured the Sovereign Lord will not let them down. What is called for among all believing Christians is faith, trust, and obedience in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. These three are divine attributes that make the Pentecost a reality and allow it to be an everyday experience” (Israel Kamudzandu, Working Preacher website, July 30, 2017).
Welcome to my blog about living as apprentices of Jesus! I am passionate about spiritual transformation and about helping others become like Jesus for the sake of others.
One of my favorite quotes is: "Whatever job we get and whatever task we are assigned can serve as a container for grace" (Eugene Peterson in "Practical Resurrection"). I pray that the words and sentences on this blog may also serve as "containers of grace" for its readers.
I ordinarily post on Wednesdays and Saturdays and welcome your comments on any post!