We know that all things work together for good[a] 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.
I suspect we’ve all had those moments in our journey of life where we find ourselves pushed to the outside of our community, our Church, our family, or found ourselves at the edge of our faith. There are those who feel this more pronounced than others. We have neighbours and friends among us who are ostracised because they have come from overseas, are cohabiting while unmarried, are single parents, are living through bereavement or illness, have lifestyles or jobs we find difficult, are less wealthy or have visible or invisible health concerns. Sometimes it’s “society” that makes people feel disconnected, vilifying the outsider, the different or the disadvantaged, while at other times it’s the Church, or even ourselves, who force a wedge between people.
For those of us who have felt the separation from our fellow humans or from God, the passage in Romans 8 gives us hope. We are given the reminder that there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus. God’s created order doesn’t separate us from God’s love. Instead it is us, in all our flawed humanity, who cause separation and division.
Despite all we do as people to put up barriers, alienate the outsider, or discriminate against God’s people who we fail to recognise, God’s created order, Roman’s 8 suggests to us, is the glue that sticks us to God and is the method by which we are brought close to one another. In creation we see God’s goodness, beauty and majesty writ large on a canvas before us – with its diversity and brilliance, through miniscule and magnified glory. In such creation we are reconciled to one another and to God through all that creation shows and reflects of the limitless love of God. Creation confirms and connects. Can we live out creation’s unity in our life as Christian disciples?
Creator God – connecting us to you, confirming your glory before us – help us to see where we put up barriers that separate us and others from you. Show us your goodness and glory. Unite us through your creation. Make us your people, in all your diversity and brilliance, that we may reflect your created unity in the world. Amen.
The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett, Minister, St Andrew’s URC, Monkseaton and Northern Synod Minister