Today’s message is simple.
So simple that the youngest among us could easily comprehend its meaning.
Here is the point in two sentences.
Can anything separate a believer from the love of God?
Nothing can separate a believer from the love of God!
So why don’t we end the message here?
After all, we have football games to watch.
We must pause to meditate, because the scripture isn’t content for us to merely comprehend God’s unfailing love.
We must become convinced.
Our experience of God’s love must shift from a warm feeling to whole hearted certainty.
And as soon as we walk out of these doors, an army of trials and hardships will be waiting for us to test that conviction!
The movie, “Beautiful Boy” chronicles the heartbreaking story of Nic Sheff’s teenage battle with a Meth addiction.
Nic grew up in an ideal setting.
His father David was a successful journalist who provided all the luxury’s required to thrive in the American dream pipeline.
Sadly, Nic was thrown off course as his marijuana escapes subtly pulled him deeper into drug culture.
And once Meth became the drug of choice, the current was too powerful for him to swim to safety on his own.
In steps dad.
Throughout the movie Nic unintentionally pushes his dad’s commitment to the brink as he lies, steals, and throws away his life.
A life that was once teeming with limitless potential.
Just as the father, David, was ready to give up on his son, the movie cuts to a flashback.
The pair are in an airport and Nic is only a boy.
As Nic is about to board a plane the following conversation ensues,
““David Sheff: Do you know how much I love you?
I love you more than everything.
- Nic Sheff (5 Years Old): Everything?
- David Sheff: Everything... everything...”
The movie cuts back, the father is searching for his grown son to try to help in the midst of his addiction for seemingly the millionth time.
Will he love him more than everything?
The answer is found in the mind of the father of the real story.
David Sheff reflects in his book,
“Some people may opt out.
Their child turns out to be whatever it is that they find impossible to face— …They close the door.
Like in mafia movies: “I have no son.
He is dead to me.”
I have a son and he will never be dead to me.” - David Sheff, Beautiful Boy
At the conclusion of Romans 8, Paul has helped believers to have answers to some of life’s most pressing questions.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
If God has forgiven us, who can justly accuse us?
But now, he turns to a final question… can anything separate us from the love of Jesus?
Can anything happen through us or to us that will cause God to opt out? ...
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
What does being loved by God look like on this earth?
Maybe images that come to mind are a smiling whole family, an energetic healthy body, and a thriving personal business.
If this passage read, “God’s love separates us from suffering,” then suffering would provide ample reason to doubt God’s care.
Instead, the passage explains that no amount of suffering can separate us from the love of God.
No matter what highs and lows you experience in this life.
God’s love for you is secure.
The reason we can believe this promise is because the security rests in the heart of our unchanging God.
The passage doesn’t say that our love for God is unshakable, but that his love for us is steady.
If you have ever experienced real pain in this life, you know that it can cause your love for God to grow cold.
But his love for you is a flame that never dims.
Listen to how the lyrics from “He Will Hold Me Fast” expresses this comforting truth,
“ When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life's fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast”
Look at Paul’s honesty about life’s fearful path: Tribulation (the idea of being placed under immense pressure), Distress, being hated, being hungry, being vulnerable and destitute, facing danger and death.
Paul experienced all of these first-hand as a leader in the early church.
Excluding the final one, the sword.
But approximately, 60 AD, while Nero was Emperor, the apostle would also have to face the cold blade of death as his final battle.
Paul did not confess to having perfect faith and full love through all of these hard trials.
But he was convinced that none of these loosened God’s grip upon him.
When you feel like you cannot get any separation from suffering.
Remember that nothing can separate you from the Savior.
Do not rest your comfort in the strength of your hold onto him.
But relax the body of your faith in the strength of his grip on you.
As Pastor Robert Murray wrote, “For every one look at your love for God.
Take ten looks at God’s love for you.”
At this point in the text, we would expect Paul to quote a hopeful promise.
We suffer, but “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!”
We may face hardship, but “he who began a good work will being it to completion.”
Instead, this is what he quotes from Psalm 44...
36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; The bible is clear that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Whether your mistreatment reaches the worst form of being killed or more subtle forms like being bullied, Christ is the only cause worth suffering constant reproach.
We should never seek suffering for sufferings sake.
We should never seek suffering for sympathies sake.
We should never seek suffering for attentions sake.
We should never seek suffering for our sake.
Some people suffer for being peculiar.
For being jerks.
Or for trying to win the world in a way that is selfish instead of winsome.
Worst yet, some wrongly think that suffering and living as a perpetual victim will somehow appease the justice of God that makes their conscience heavy.
Friends, because their is no condemnation...
We simply should never seek suffering.
After all, if we live for Jesus, suffering will seek us.
We pick up our cross, not because we love the cross, but because we love the Christ.
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Let’s slip into the sandals of the early believers who gathered together excitedly to hear a new letter written by the apostle Paul.