What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 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? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 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. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.
One afternoon long ago, helping me push the baby in the buggy, my daughter said in a thoughtful sort of voice, “You know God, Mummy?” “Yes dear” I said cautiously … “Well I think, I think it’s all about love really, cos I love you and you love me – so God is here and … and if I ran away all the way up there (pointing) and you stayed here – I would still love you, and you would still love me – so God would still be here!” and off she skipped, leaving Mummy astonished at the wisdom of someone not yet four!
It is beyond us. What can we say, Paul asks, that will truly convey the nature of God as we know God in Jesus? God who is for us, who embraces us with a father’s love; Jesus, God’s Son, our brother who knows what it is to be human, sharing our path from the manger to the cross – living still to represent humanity to God and God’s love to humankind. Nothing in all creation we are assured, can separate us from this love that we know in Christ. All that life or death can throw at us is powerless against it.
Do we really believe it, though, and act on it? Most of us rarely experience hardship, distress, famine, persecution, and the rest, and we are grateful for that. But in many places at home and abroad people of faith (or no faith) suffer in many of these ways. So many that it seems impossible that anything we can do will make a difference, so, often, we feel powerless and do nothing. Yet it is only in sharing the unconquerable love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord that we will know in our hearts and in our lives the reality of that love. Love must be embodied, to be real. My four-year-old had it right: where there is love is where God is found.
All-embracing God, Your love is beyond measure. It surrounds us and supports us and never fails even when nailed to a cross. Our love is uneasy and often falters at the first obstacle, or fades as time passes. Forgive us when we are afraid to love for it is when we find love for others that we find you, Lover of All. Amen
The Rev’d Heather Pencavel, Retired Minister, Thornbury URC