We know that all things work together for good 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? (Romans 8:28-35)
Why wait? This is a question that Jesus often raised, but that sometimes Paul fails to emphasize, because for Paul these things are already a done deal. In the Christ, the will of God was revealed, and so we no longer have to suffer this earthly realm. But sometimes we need some guidance as to how to live out the faith completed in the person of Jesus.
We may believe, even know, that God works all things together for good, but sometimes this truth is challenged when we see things falling apart around us. We might claim our place in God’s family through the strength of our Christian faith, but from time to time wonder why we still struggle and are tested. It is GREAT to have God on our side, to think, “Wow! If God is for us, who can possibly stand against us,” but sometimes the evidence is pretty slim.
I think one of the greatest challenges we face today is our individualistic society. Most of Jesus’ core teachings, and specifically this message from Paul, is to “you plural," rather than “you singular.” Note that Paul uses “we” and “us” to explain these things. It is in healthy and faithful community that we experience this strength and assurance from God. God is for “us.” God is with “us.” “We” are beloved and protected and raised – together. We are strength for each other, encouragement for each other, protection for each other – and it is God’s will that we live our lives together to become Christ’s love, hope, and grace for all the world. It is no wonder these words are so often used as words of promise and comfort at funeral and memorial services.
Blessed Lord, we thank you. We love this assurance that nothing will separate us from your love in Christ. We are faced with many challenges. First, we thank you for the saving grace you freely give in Jesus Christ. Second, we thank you for the gift of community that defines us, that nourishes us, that strengthens us, and that provides our foundation to be the body of Christ for the world. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.