Abiding Monday: The Advent Season Begins
“Can anything separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 35-39 (NLT)
We spent some time in the above passage in my Sunday school class yesterday, kicking of a 3-week series on the purpose of Christmas. I asked each person to spend some time reflecting on the amazing words above, and to share a phrase that stuck with them personally. The responses were varied and beautiful, and I also shared my own: the repeated use of the word “separate”.
I thought about how that word describes our relationship with God before Jesus enters into it. Our sin separates us from a perfect, holy God, and only Jesus can bridge that gap. In taking our sin upon Himself and nailing it to the Cross, Jesus made a way for us to be in relationship with God forever. Hallelujah for Christmas, the birth of our Savior!
So seeing the word “separate” in the passage from Romans has all new meaning, because of the words that precede it: “nothing can”! We are stuck to God like glue. In the words of a guy in my Sunday school class, God is like this loving, ever-present bodyguard. That is certainly a nice picture to have in mind when facing the trials of another day – and a great reason to begin celebrating Advent.
I like to think of God not just as a bodyguard, but a gentle giant, one who is completely interested in everything I think and do. Donald Miller describes it like this (in his excellent, must-read book, Blue Like Jazz):
“Jesus didn’t just love me out of principle; He didn’t just love me because it was the right thing to do. Rather, there was something inside me that caused Him to love me. I think I realized that if I walked up to His campfire, He would ask me to sit down, and He would ask me my story. He would take the time to listen to my ramblings or my anger until I could calm down, and then He would look me directly in the eye, and He would speak to me; He would tell me the truth, and I would sense in His voice and in the lines on His face that He liked me.”
It is this same Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas. May your Advent season be shaped and colored by the thought that He is your friend, and His love never fails. Have a great week, Mom Crowd!