Grace and peace from the Mystery in whom we live and move and have our being. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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.”Romans 8:26-39
Nothing can separate us from the love of God
It is a passage that is often read at funerals. And rightly so. For it speaks and gives comfort to those who have lost a loved one by reminding them that their loved one is not lost to God. Death cannot separate us from God.
But I wonder, why do we wait for funerals to read this? Can’t this passage give comfort in life? Doesn’t this passage give comfort for life?
I know I had you sit quietly when I read this passage before this reflection, but I want you to hear it again. I want you to close your eyes, feet on the floor, arms uncrossed… fold or unfold your hands.
And I want to read this to you in a few different ways, with some silence between, again. I will tell you when to open your eyes back up. So close your eyes and get comfortable. AND LISTEN.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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…….
Nothing in all of creation can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus…..
Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus…..
Nothing can separate you…..
OK. Open your eyes.
Is there anything more to be said, really?
I don’t really know if there is that much more to say. I should probably just leave it at that and sit down. You don’t get much more gospel than this. You don’t get much more grace than this.
But like the lawyer who sought to justify himself to Jesus and couldn’t keep his mouth shut, I will continue merrily on my way.
Why do we wait to speak these words over someone only after they have died?
Don’t you think they might have an impact on someone while they are alive?
How much time have we spent in our lives trying to get in good with God? How much time have we spent worrying about our sin separating us from God?
Don’t you think these words might have an impact on all of that?
If you have ever spent time worrying about your sin separating you from God, then hear this line again,
And guess what, that includes you… because you are a part of creation. So not even you can separate yourself from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Your sin vs. God’s grace
But we keep worrying about it. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard people talk about the guilt they feel, or whether they have done enough in God’s eyes.
And I always ask them, “What is bigger… What is greater… your sin or God’s grace?”
“Which is bigger, your sin or God’s grace?”
And I have yet to hear anyone respond with “My sin.” Everyone says, “God’s grace.”
So what is it again you are worried about?
I don’t understand why this passage or these words aren’t written on billboards instead of what we normally see from Christian groups. Why does it always seem that, “The wages of sin is death,” is the most popular billboard… which, by the way is only half the sentence.
I remember when I lived in San Diego, there was a group, who I can only assume considered themselves Christian, who would put up billboards in the two months leading up to Christmas.
It would usually start with “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Which isn’t a bad reminder. But then it would move to “The wages of sin is death,” which I found quite predictable. And then the final one, which I can only assume they thought was funny, read, “Don’t make me have to come down there… Signed, God.”
Really, “Don’t make me have to come down there.” Before Christmas!?!
Don’t they read the Bible???
Why? Because God wants to
You don’t have to read more than three chapters into Genesis to find out God comes down to earth, not because God has to, but because God wants to. God wants to walk in the gardens of our lives with us.
You don’t have to read more than one chapter into the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John to find out God comes down to earth, not because God has to, but because God LOVES to. God desires to be one with us.
And by the second chapter of Acts you will get the same message through the story of Pentecost. God pours out the Spirit on us here, down on this earth.
And in case you forget about that by the time you get to Revelation…
in the next to the last chapter of the Bible, John has a vision of the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down out of heaven to set up on earth.
And these great words are spoken:
“See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell among them and they will be God’s people and God will be with them.”Revelation 21:3
Don’t make me come down there…
“’Don’t make me have to come down there…’ Signed, God.” It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
Look, all I’m asking for is that Christians who put up billboards at least read the Bible before putting them up. Is that too much to ask?
And here is why God is so willing to come down here. Because God wants nothing to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. NOTHING!!!!!
And to get that through our thick skulls God simply chooses to spend every moment of creation here with us. In body and in Spirit… So that we will know that nothing in all of creation, and even beyond creation, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Look… let’s be real clear. The reason that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus isn’t because of our commitment to God, or our desire to go and be wherever God is. Not in any way shape or form. And no reading of the Bible could give you that idea.
No, the reason nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus is because of God’s commitment to us. And not even our hanging him on a cross can stop it.
And “no” I’m not making this up, nor is it wishful thinking. It’s right there, in the book. READ IT!!! Seriously…read it.
It’s called grace.
No ifs, ands or buts
Yet I can hear it now, “But, but, but… We have to do something don’t we.”
Well… to steal a line from a pastor that my boss Eric said he heard. ‘No we don’t have to do anything… Grace doesn’t have a big butt.”
Actually, grace doesn’t even have a small but…Grace has no but.
And yet it continues…
I can’t tell you the number of times I have people who want to add their ‘buts’ to the conversation.
“But what if you reject him, don’t accept him. That certainly separates you.”
And my reply is, “You mean what if I didn’t acknowledge he existed, or I knew him. Like what if I denied him as being a part of my life?”
And they answer, “Yes”.
And then I add, “You mean and what if I turned against him, you know, betrayed his will and his ways? You mean like that?”
And they answer, “Yes.”
What if I deny him?
And then I add even more, “You mean what if I ran away from him, deserted him. Tried to escape from his presence. You mean like that?…
You’re telling me if I am a denier of him, a betrayer of him, and one who runs from him, I will separate myself from him?”
And the usual answer I hear is, “Yes. You will.”
And my reply is…
“Well, God’s got a meal that begs to differ with you.” And it was first given to a denier, a betrayer and those who ran away from him.
“… I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor 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.”
Wednesday Respite is a 30-min contemplative service of scripture, prayer, music and a Spirited Touchpoint by Spirit in the Desert faith mentor, Rev. “Bro. Jim” Hanson.
Touchpoint is a reflection on where God’s story touches our life story. It is a short homily based on a biblical story of people in the Old and New Testaments and their relationship with God. Our spiritual ancestors’ experience of God’s grace connects with our lives in the present and our relationship with the Divine. Previous Touchpoints are available as PDFs or on SoundCloud