Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Nothing Separates 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.

- Romans 8:35-39

These words have long been a great source of comfort to me. I first noticed them when I sang them in a song I learned in 1990 when I attended the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) in Missoula, Montana:

For I am sure/
I do believe/
In present time/
Or things to come/
In heights or depths/
In death or life/
Nothing separates us from the love of God.

This song was introduced at EYE, and in subsequent years we sang it again and again at youth events in the Diocese of Olympia. I was honored to play piano in the band that accompanied our singing in these events for many years.

And the words are really quite striking. Nothing? Nothing. Does God get angry and frustrated with us? That seems very likely. Does God long for us to change our lives? Most definitely.

Does God cut us off? Never.

Image from
The image I've posted here can be a helpful image. In certain Christian circles, it is a very common trope. And it does get across our feeling of perpetual separation from God. We cannot be totally in sync with God all the time. We're lucky if we can manage it some of the time ... on our own steam.

But luckily, it's not up to us to assure this connection. The reality, from God's perspective, is this: there is no separation. Julia of Norwich put it this way: "Between us and God there is no between."

I knew a young boy once who came across Julian's quote, and it startled him. He asked, "Does this mean that we ARE God?"

I replied, "Not quite, John. But almost. Almost."

God never lets us go. Never. Ever. Ever. Nothing can EVER separate us from the love of God.

And don't let anybody -- Christian or not -- tell you otherwise.

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