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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Today’s Reading | Romans 8:31–39

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. (NRSV)

Reflection
Do you have sayings that you learned in your youth that resonated with you but develop richer meaning as you age? For me, most of these relate to music. My teacher, B. R. Henson, was fond of reminding us that “no two notes are alike unless they are specifically marked to be alike.” I studied with him for about five years in college and continued to learn lessons from him until his death. The truth is I still learn from him and from his wife though both have passed. This is one of the marks of great teaching.

In the years I knew B. R. Henson, I would hear these sayings countless times. As others began saying, “I’ve heard that before. I know this information,” I began wondering, “Why that story now?” Then it happened. I realized that if no two notes are alike, neither are any two phrases, no two ritards, nothing. “Oh! That is what he means.” I continue to have those moments. I have the same moments with God.

Paul is a great teacher. “If God is for us, who is against us?” It’s pretty easy to feel righteous and justified when you grow up in a strong faith community where everyone looks like you—literally. Everyone believes like you. Everyone defends against criticism with the same scriptures that you do. It’s easy to convince yourself that you are right. You’re a young and confident Christian.

I’m older now. I read Paul differently. If God is for us, does it matter who is standing against us? Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ—not even ourselves. Who is to condemn? Christ alone. We are called to accept and love all—humbly and without condition—no matter who stands against us.

I heard it in a sermon long ago and it stuck. “Accept them all and let God sort them out.”

Prayer
Lord God, lead me in your ways. Guide me in your paths. Continue to teach me the ways of the Christ. Help me to remember that for you to teach, I must be willing to learn. Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Written by Rob Sinclair, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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