38 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.” Romans 8:38-39
The word “separation” has a lot of meaning. As you know it carries the connotation for marriage of a husband and wife no longer living together. There is “separation anxiety,” a state in which children and adults suffer severe emotional reactions to be being apart from loved ones. It is also the subject of a lot of songs and literature.
When I think of separation, real separation, it has an uncomfortable quiet to it. The voices we miss. The faces it hurts to not see as we once did. At the same it has a desire to it. You want to be with certain people or places but can’t. To be separated from love (from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (39)) though is something else. Phone calls and emails in the end aren’t enough. There is no substitute for presence and love and affection and care. I think of widows and widowers who lose their loved one after 40 to 50 years of marriage and they can’t feel that love anymore. Not only them, anytime there is separation of a cherished relationship. This is the heartbreak of separation. We can barely feel the love anymore.
In other words, it is on our minds a lot.
In a spiritual sense there is separation as well. Listen to this list from Paul in the letter to the Romans, of all the things that could conceivably keep us from God: death, life, other spiritual powers, time (present or future), distance, and then “anything else in all creation (38-39).”
What is it about these? They are all things that we as humans could either find as separating from God or use as excuses for remaining separate from God. Sometimes it seems easy for us to say, “I am so far away from God, and I can’t get back (spiritual distance).” Or we say, “It has been too long or I am too busy (time).”
The one thing they all have in common is all of them are created. Nothing that is created can have power over its creator. So that “anything else in all creation (39)” does not compare to and has no power over the Creator, God. No other person, no institution, no amount of time, no distance can, “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (39).”
And this is what Jesus accomplishes through His life, death and resurrection. Through and thanks to Him, the separation was bridged – eternally. The love of God in Christ Jesus can be ours – ours to experience and to be healed through and to share with others. It only takes faith in Jesus as Savior. That is the confidence on which Paul stands with his claim of “nothing…will be able to separate us…” (39-39). It is the confidence we can also stand on today.
And when Jesus bridges our separation from God’s love, it can give us the ability to close the distance, years and history between others and us in this life and the life to come.
- What are some ways we can feel separated from God?
- What are some things you are allowing to separate yourself from God?
- How are you experiencing separation in your life and faith?
- Today’s passage is a bold claim. Can you believe it? Do you see Paul’s logic?
- What does it mean for our lives, if there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?