April 6, 2020
I woke up in the middle of the night and began thinking again. A wonderful Scripture came to mind that caught my attention in a new way.
Romans 8:35–39 (ESV) — 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, 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 sure 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.
Two things really hit home with me and I hope they stir your meditative thoughts today. The first is in this list of things that won’t separate us from God’s love, and that is “things present”. Things present refers not only to the things going on in our lives right now – the virus, family things, financial things, etc., but it also refers to where we are – right now – in terms of our walk with God.
One of the ironies I have found in my own spiritual life is that when I don’t feel like I am measuring up, I tend to distance myself from the Lord until I feel a bit more deserving. Deep down I know I can do better and I don’t like the feeling of disappointing the Lord. Yet I also know (at least in my head) that my best self flows out of a sense of closeness with the Lord – when I am confident in His love for me.
“Things present” reminds me that God’s love for me doesn’t change. His love is not like human love – an emotion often dependent upon the actions of another. His love for us is “in Christ Jesus”. It is based upon the relationship we have because of the work of Christ on our behalf. It is a love that is constant and consistent. It is toward us right now in our “things present”.
The second thing is that this love is just that – love. I’ve seen family relationships without love. I’ve seen in tact marriages without affection. It’s wonderful that we have been adopted by God and have a “legal standing” relationship with Him because of our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. But the Scripture doesn’t say nothing can separate us from our standing in adoption or our standing righteousness (although it could). It says nothing can separate us from His love.
In other words, right now . . . in our “things present” . . . His arms are open to us – affectionately. Almost 400 years ago, the Westminster Assembly, a synod of English and Scottish theologians and laymen, wrote what is known as the Westminster Catechism, a rather lengthy declaration of articles of faith meant to unify the church’s doctrine. These articles are laid out in a series of questions and answers. The very first question is “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”.
There are a great many sermons preached on how to glorify God, but relatively few on enjoying Him. I believe that enjoying God is the prerequisite to glorifying Him. And I believe that enjoying Him begins with understanding and responding to His love for us in Christ Jesus . . . right now . . . in our things present. Running into those open arms, sharing a kind of intimacy that can only happen with God, and walking away with the kind of assurance that makes us “more than a conqueror” in every situation in life.
So let me ask you, when was the last time you enjoyed God?