28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For 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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He 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? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who 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. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.
It's been an emotional couple of weeks since my last post. I'm still in the throes of job-searching and interviewing. Like many who deal with being unemployed, structure is difficult to find, or even make. Still, rather than shaming myself for what I could easily see as a failure (by not writing daily as I'd hoped to do), I'm going to accept where I'm at. I'm here, right now. That's what matters.
Growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition, I heard this passage used repeatedly as evidence of eternal security: once saved, always saved. Once we are connected to Christ, nothing can separate us from him. Yet even as a young child with a blooming awareness of my sexuality, I would read this passage not because I knew it to be true, but because I feared so deeply that I was the exception to the rule. Maybe others couldn't be separated from Jesus and his love, but I could. I felt so broken that the idea of being eternally connected to the love of Jesus seemed utterly impossible. Reading and rereading this passage, I clung white knuckled to the hope that I was wrong, that I too was inseparable.
This weekend, I'll be guest preaching at a church across the river. Looking at Mark 2, the story of the paralyzed man, I'll be talking about the need to forgive ourselves in the midst of our own brokenness. I can't help but feel these two pericopes are connected. There's the man who's spent most if not all of his life thrown to the wayside by society, deemed useless and without value, and there's the reminder that he, and I, and all of us, can NEVER be ripped away from Jesus' love for us. Despite hearing messages from those around us, and from within our own minds, our belovedness is irrefutable and irrevocable. It's permanent. We may not feel it, but we are always connected to the true source of Agape.
Wherever you are, whatever you're doing today, take a moment to read this passage, perhaps more than once. Let yourself be reminded of the ties that bind you to Love, and remember that they are unbreakable. When it comes to us and the love of Jesus, separation is not an option...
**If you want to follow along with the devotional lectionary I’ll be using for this series, you can find it here via Pittsburgh Theological Seminary**
photo credit: Christian Weidinger (via Flickr)