February 17, 2013: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, sometimes our friends mock our faith, telling us we live in a make-believe world because to them Your love is simply: too good to be true. Lord, sometimes in moments of weakness we harbor doubts about Your over-arching love, as well. Sometimes we also wonder whether the promise of heaven, the promise of a clean conscience, the promise of all things in this life working out for our eternal good—we wonder whether all of that is simply too good to be true? Lord, today instill confidence and certainty that when it comes to Your Word of truth, it is ALL true and we’re the beneficiaries of Your truckload of blessings! Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHOSE LOVE FOR US IS BOUNDLESS!

TEXT: Romans 8: 31-39

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Since Jesus used parables, earthly stories with heavenly meanings, to ram home profound truths, today I’m going to do likewise. So, let me tell you a parable.
Once upon a time there were two Christians who both died at the exact same time. Sally Fiedler was a young woman of about 25. For her, death came with the suddenness of a car crash on Route 128. Frank Ramsey was a bit older, age 60, and for him death was a heart attack in the hospital after lingering a few days following a stroke. Sally had no time to “get ready to meet Christ” and although Frank did, he wasn’t totally sure about heaven and the afterlife. He hoped he’d get there, but like many weak Christians, doubts crossed his mind.

Well, these two arrive together in heaven at the exact same time. And what do they find? Well, instantly they’re in the midst of a wondrous parade! They find themselves riding in a limousine with millions of people thronging the golden streets of God’s City. The mood is festive. It is marked with jubilation. Everywhere they turn people are shouting out words of welcome and are applauding them! Both Sally and Frank are stunned. This parade is a cross between an earthly ticker-tape parade for the first human on Mars and one of those old Cecil B. DeMille productions where the conquering heroes of Rome return triumphant to that city. Frank turns to Sally (whom he instantly knows) and says: “Why are we here? We don’t deserve this.” Sally agrees and adds: “We never conquered anything in life. Our jobs ground us down. Our families faced heartache that they never overcame. Our health succumbed to physical death. Satan got us to sin more times than we could ever count. We don’t deserve to be treated this way.—They must have made a mistake?”

But, the crowds keep roaring their approval of Sally and Frank and then, suddenly they both get a tap on the shoulder. They turn around to gaze into St. Paul’s face. Again, since it’s heaven they instantly know him. And St. Paul says to them: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will be not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

I

Upon hearing those words, both Frank and Sally “got it.” They both realized that in life and death they truly were conquering heroes because when they were baptized they had put on Christ. By believing in Jesus, all His goodness, all His holiness, all His victories had been transferred to them by God the Father. Now, instead of looking back over their lives and moaning about their faults, failures, and prideful attempts to try and make God recognize them (kind of like the little kid who always acts up in school because they crave the teacher’s acceptance and attention)—now both Sally and Frank realized that they had God’s undivided attention and love during every nanosecond of their lives. God’s Son had died for them! He had suffered for them! He had carried their pain, their worries over the future, their shame over not being truly humble. Christ had carried even their secret sins which they would rather die than reveal to another. Yes, in love Jesus carried their every burden of life and left those burdens nailed to the cross! And just as Jesus arose to a new, perfect, clean, and joyous life—so they in faith had inherited all that. Yes, they “got it” because they fully realized that Heavenly Hero-hood is simply about wearing the accolades that Christ has already won!

II

When Frank and Sally were alive on earth they both went to church fairly regularly. They both communed. They both prayed. They both found a certain amount of comfort in their Sunday morning interaction with God. And yet, while earthbound, both these new saints let money worries semi-control their lives. They let fear over being branded as “weird” by their coworkers prevent them from openly sharing Christ. Frank let death make him doubt God’s goodness after he had his initial stroke. Sally let the busyness of life deprive her of a more sane lifestyle in which thanking God came first instead of last. In fact, both these new saints had, at various times in their lives, put God on the back-burner because a hobby (golf in Frank’s case) and a new boyfriend (Sally’s) enticed them away from their faith-filled roots. Upon death, neither felt much like saints, or conquerors. Neither felt their lives were exemplary. Neither thought of their faith as strong. And yet, because the object of their faith, Jesus, is always strong—both their lives were viewed as awesome by the entire heavenly host!

And as they rode that limo to their new mansions in heaven, St. Paul reminded them of that fact with these words: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My friends, you don’t have to wait until your ride through the pearly gates to live out this reality. It is yours right here and right now. Just like newly baptized Jack you’re conquerors in Christ right this minute! So, continue to cling to Jesus and enjoy the confident ride of your lifetime! Amen