I know I’ve been away awhile; I’ve actually been elsewhere on the ‘net dialoguing with an agnostic, and I’ve been a bit obsessed with practicing my guitar, so there ya have it. Today I want to blog about a Bible passage that many people, including me, read through and don’t really stop and ponder the full meaning of. I know many people that quote this passage, and really like this passage, but there’s an aspect to it that I find highly comforting that I used to gloss over.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I want to take this passage in parts to talk about each idea. First we have a type of rhetorical question from Paul, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Now, here’s one aspect of this that I used to skip over without thinking about; notice that Paul doesn’t just ask us about Christ; “Who shall separate us from Christ?” no, he is emphasizing the love of Christ. If anyone is curious this “love” is the Greek “agape.”
We already have Christ Himself telling us He’ll never leaves nor forsake us, and Paul emphasizes that point, as well as the aspect of Christ’s love toward us. Not only will all these things not separate us from Him, they cannot separate us from His Love either. What a comforting thought!
So, what is covered in verse 35? We have; tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. Tribulation, in the Greek; thlipsis. Looking up thlipsis in Strong’s I find an interesting literal meaning; a pressing, or pressure. So, all those pressures in life, all those things pressing in on us cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Distress, in the Greek; stenochoria. Another interesting literal meaning; narrowness of place, a narrow place. Now, I don’t know about you, but that conjures to mind situations we feel “stuck” in, where we feel smothered by anguish, or indecision, or doubt. Again, all those things smothering us, causing us anguish cannot separate us from the love of Christ.
Next; persecution, diogmos in the Greek. This one is straightforward, yet we Christians suffer persecution in different intensities and in different forms. There are missionaries right now suffering physical persecution to the point of death in some cases. There are teenagers being harassed by peers and even teachers for their faith. There are people split from their families because they accept Who Christ is, and on and on and on. We are promised persecution in this life, BUT it cannot separate us from the love of Christ.
Famine is next. I like the literal in Greek; limos, a scarcity of harvest. Think about that one. A scaricity of harvest means you’ve put what effort you can into something, yet it does not come to fruition. With the economic situation around the globe, times are tough. There’s also countries and peoples facing literal famine too. It’s hard and daunting, but know that even that cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Nakedness? Gumnotes in the Greek; literally bodily nakedness. If you’ve lost everything, including the shirt off your back, we are still united to the Love of Christ.
The Greek for peril is kindunos; dangers is another way of putting it. Notice it doesn’t limit what kind of danger we find ourselves in which means they are all covered in the fact that any danger cannot separate from His love either; physical, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc… How ‘ bout danger by sword? The literal in the Greek is literally a blade; big sword, little sword, machaira covers them all. What a comfort to both our soldiers, and our fellow believers who are missionaries who literally face the sword for their beliefs!
All of this should make us seriously consider a few things. First, there are some salesmen out there that are selling the idea that if you become a Christian your life will be magically transformed into a bed of roses. After reading just this bit of scripture, does that seem to be the case? By no means. We will go through very very tough and trying times, some of us will even face death for our beliefs; being a Christian and having faith is no crutch, no easy ride. HOWEVER, we are promised something no one else is; absolutely nothing can, nor will separate us from the love of Christ. Most of us know what it is like to feel really loved by someone or something. Imagine love that is eternal, that is perfect and that is always with you. For those of you who feel unloved, or who have never known that kind of love, you can have it in Christ. He came to this earth, lived, was crucified and resurrect for us humans, that’s love. He did it all so that we may be reconciled to God Himself, through Jesus Christ and it’s all rooted in love. Think about it.
I’ll continue on with this passage in the next installment…