Through Him Who Loved Us (Romans 8:35-37)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. —Romans 8:35-37
I’ve always thought one of the most beautiful parts of any wedding is the exchange of vows. There’s a hint of glory in hearing a bride and groom promise they will love each other “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
When they make this promise, the bride and groom are promising that, no matter what circumstances or sufferings come, nothing will separate them from each other’s love. Although many in our day tragically renege on this solemn commitment, the traditional wedding vow provides us with a template for this passage in Romans 8 that can help us understand the incredible love of Christ for His bride, the church.
In this passage, Paul ponders what circumstances might test the power of love’s promise. Using the wedding vow template, the questions might be asked in this way: “What about when things are ‘for worse’ and there are tribulations and distress? Or what about when our situation takes a turn ‘for poorer’ and we don’t have sufficient food or clothing? And what about ‘in sickness’ when even our bodily health is threatened by persecution and attack? Will the promise hold then? Or can those circumstances separate us from the love of Christ?”
Paul’s questions probe the limits of love to see if any circumstance he can think of might possibly be too much to keep us in the love of Christ. As we read, we can’t help but add our own scenarios. “What if my mom gets cancer? What if I never get married? What if I lose my job? Will Christ’s love hold then? Or can this circumstance separate me from his love?”
Before he gives us the answer, Paul raises the stakes. He points out that sometimes our sufferings extend even to death. Many times God’s people are considered merely sheep to be slaughtered. What then? Can death separate us from the love of Christ?
Here’s where Christ’s wedding vows are gloriously different than ours. In our traditional vows, we promise that our love will endure every circumstance—every circumstance but one. We promise to love and to cherish in all the trials of life “until death do us part.” There it is. The one thing that can separate us from the love of our spouse: Death.
But Paul triumphantly proclaims it is not so with Christ! “No, in all these things” – including death – “we are more than conquerors . . .”
This is true, Paul says, “through him who loved us.” The past tense points us back to the ultimate display of Christ’s death-conquering love – the cross. In Romans 5:8 Paul had said, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Therefore, the certainty of God’s love for us is founded upon the sacrifice of Christ’s life for us.
This is why nothing can separate us from his love. This is why, when Christ takes us as his bride, his covenant vows end with, “and not even death will us part.”
What circumstances in your life tempt you to question God’s love for you?
How does this passage help you fight the fight of faith and believe that Christ’s love is stronger than any circumstance?
How does Christ’s death for us make us more than conquerors in any suffering we face, even death?