ContemporaryCollect: O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we may lost nothing the things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Romans 8:26–39: ’Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 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. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
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.’
This week is Lectionary Thursday instead of Lectionary Wednesday. This weeks passage comes from Romans 8:26–39. Maybe one angle through which we can look at what’s going on here is what God has done for the church in his immeasurable love.
In the first paragraph, God intercedes through the groanings of the Holy Spirit for the church, since we do not always know how we should pray. It is in our weakness that the Spirit comes to our aide. Paul echoes this in a different context in 2 Corinthians where he says that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and his grace is sufficient.
The second paragraph is typically seen as a classic argument for calvinism, but maybe there is an alternative reading we can explore. The central theme of Romans is that Paul is trying to reconcile Jews and Gentiles within the church, particular the church in Rome. This provides us with a corporate reading, rather than an individualistic reading. Perhaps we can see this as applying to the church rather than any particular individual. God foreknew the church, the church who loves him and has been called according to his good purposes. The church has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, justified, and glorified. This the incredible love God has shown us in seeking to redeem us and glorify us in the end, even though we clearly don’t deserve such favor.
Because he foreknew the church and predestined us, if God is for us, then who can be against us? Who can bring a charge against us, when it is God who has justified us? Jesus himself, who died, was raised for us, and sits at the right hand of God, intercedes for us. Therefore, nothing in all of creation can separate us from his love. This is a message of hope and perseverance for the church. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
God’s love is so deep, so wide, and so high 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.” The victory has already been won, and it is our job, by the power of the Holy Spirit to implement that victory.
How many times do we fail to show that same love to others, myself included? I can think of countless times I could have shown love to someone in need and failed miserably. One application we can take from this is that we need not fear in boldly showing others the love of Jesus. We need not have any fear of what may happen to us, because God is for us.
What are your thoughts on this passage? There is more than one angle to view this passage, and I would love to hear what others have to say about such a profound and moving passage from Paul.