In both Romans 8 and 9, Paul asks a question…What are we to say? He asks it in chapter 8 at the end of a section where he has been reflecting on what it means to be in the Spirit, on the future that awaits us, and then leading into one of the most significant sections of Romans where Paul lists out all the things that cannot separate us from God. But then the question comes again in chapter 9 about Jews and non-Jews when it comes to Jesus.
I guess this question is the one that I have been wrestling with so far through the first 11 chapters of Romans…what am I to say about all of these things? Sure I can dig into the specific verses, points, etc through each chapter but instead what I have been finding myself doing each morning is going back to what has been in the previous sections before and after reading the passage for the day. Trying to move from just the specifics into the overall deeper message that I am hearing so far. What I am hearing is a message of deep grace and hope. Yes there are words of challenge about sin and our separation from God but Paul doesn’t leave us in that place – he pushes us to something far greater – the reality of a love, a hope, and a forgiveness that is beyond anything his readers (or us) can imagine or have experienced before.
Those verses from Romans 8 that I noted above speak to this for me:
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 love how it is not only those “negative” things that we often think of that cannot separate us (death, powers, etc) but also Paul lists “life, angels, rulers, time, space” as those things that cannot separate us from God. NOTHING can separate us. Is that the deeper message from Paul – moving from the top picture (of smaller individual clouds) to the wider picture. These two pictures were taken just moments from each other – one looking East at the sunrise a few days ago and the other looking west where all the colors of the sunrise are bleeding into each other. Moving from the specifics to the wider story.