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“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … 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.” (Romans 8:35-39)
What prevents us from living in such a way that nothing, I mean nothing, separates us from the acceptance of Christ’s love for us? Is it old ways of thinking? Is it a long season of trials? Is it unconfessed sin? Is it not walking with Christ? Is it the busyness of life and daily demands? For me, thought patterns of performance-based acceptance hold me back from more consistently walking in Christ’s unconditional love. Yet, the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:3-4, confirms that seeking to establish our own righteousness means that we are not truly submitted to God’s righteousness. Wow, a serious attitude adjustment is on its way for me! Christ’s offer of a righteousness that comes by faith rather than by works is in opposition to our culture. Our work environments function with the use of rewards delivered to us by our marked performance. On the other hand, when our performance is poor, we may receive negative consequences, or at a minimum, the lack of rewards. Obviously, there is biblical truth to this system; however, when it comes to our reward of Christ’s love, “The system” must be abolished because we cannot earn His love or acceptance.
What is God’s system of love dispersement? Jesus Christ is God’s display of extravagant love for us. Until Christ came to earth to live among us, the Israelites, God’s people, lived under the yolk of performance-based acceptance. The high-priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the sins of the Israelites. God set-up the pattern of sacrifice for sin, which required the Israelites to ceremonially kill a spotless lamb as a sin offering to God. They toiled for years to try to be righteousness enough by keeping God’s law (i.e. The Ten Commandments), only to learn that they could not keep the commandments. For the Law states that if you break one commandment you have broken all the commandments. Fast forward to 33 b.c., when Jesus, the true spotless Lamb of God, gave His life as a once and for all payment for sin. The Israelites were powerless to truly save themselves from the consequences of sin, which is separation from God. By Jesus becoming the sacrifice for our sins, He freed us from the power sin had over us; as well as, both present and eternal separation from God. By faith in His payment for our sins and choosing to turn from our sins, we have freedom from the eternal consequences of sin.
So, the law is good because it reveals our sin and unveils our deep need to be saved from it. The awesome news is that because Jesus became the sacrifice for all sin, for all time, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)! In Romans 10:9-11 we learn how to become “In Christ.” “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'”
Whether you are new “In Christ,” or you have walked with Jesus for years, it is helpful to reflect upon the things which seek to separate us from truly knowing that He loves us. In our Scripture reference above in Romans 8:35-39, Paul wrote from a sense of astonishment. He encouraged the Romans in the truth that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ. As I read down his list, it became clear that Paul covered every possible condition that could seek to separate us from the love of Jesus. I, too am in awe that on my worst day, when I really blow it, have a stinky attitude, seek to earn God’s love by my performance, lose patience with my children, and have a heated argument with my husband, Jesus says that none of these things can separate me from His love, wow and double wow!! This does not remove the reality of natural consequences for poor choices. However, it draws our hearts to Jesus who loves us the same, regardless of our choices. Which, in turn, causes a great desire to live in a way that pleases Him.
Accordingly, as I find myself in the midst of trouble, rather than being hard on myself, I can choose to view my troubles in the revealing light of Jesus. How then do we see our problems from His perspective rather than from our vantage point? To address this question, I created a simple flow chart below from a devotional entitled Jesus Calling, written by Sarah Young. The chart below is a practical tool to anchor my thoughts in God’s truth when problems seek to steer me off-course.
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
TALK WITH JESUS ABOUT THE PROBLEM
LOOK AT THE PROBLEM IN THE LIGHT OF HIS PRESENCE
THIS CREATES SPACE BETWEEN ME AND MY PROBLEM
NOW, I CAN MORE EASILY SEE “MY” PROBLEM AS “OUR” PROBLEM, FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE
At the point I become so focused on my dilemmas, I lose sight of the astonishing reality that Jesus is with me. He is the very One I need with me to successfully walk through my troubles. As the Law is good because it exposes our need for a Savior, so trouble is good because it points us to Jesus, realizing our profound need for Him. May your heart find peace and reassurance today as you talk with Jesus about what troubles you. And, may you see your problems with Him at your side, so that the two of you can walk them out, together.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:6)