Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …Romans 8:35
I have always loved this verse, though holding on to it at times of trouble has seemed elusive at best. Usually when the going gets tough in relational conflict, under financial pressure or sickness I forget about God’s love and revert to anxiety or stressed out overreactions. But God’s love is supposed stick to us like superglue; so what are we missing?
Maybe our common weakness in situations needing God’s love is expecting to find the source in ourselves; and when that is failing we fall back into fear, stress or shame. But this morning I noticed how this superglue love that sticks through every possible circumstance has nothing to do with me or you. Its holding power is linked to who Jesus is and where He is in the previous verse.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34 ESV
Yup…that superglue love is all about Jesus interceding for us with the Father right there in heaven. Remember He told us, “I and the Father are one.”? His love for us superglues Him to that place in Heaven. No situation of life or death, sickness or persecution can unstick His love or make Him give up on us. His love is superglued right to the throne of God and nothing in creation will ever separate us from the amazing….unbelievable…all powerful and wonderful, love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! Now that gives me hope and puts a drop of God’s superglue love in me!
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Romans 12:5 KJV
If we were asked to pick one single member of our body that we would miss the least, many would answer, our little toe. After all that toe is not only very small but probably no one would even notice. But not long ago I had a revelation about its value when that toe met the leg of our kitchen table. First came the pain that made me sit down for several minutes until my head cleared. My brain didn’t care about my strong hands, smooth biceps or well combed hair. All I could focus on was just exactly how much I loved my toe!
The same is true in God’s body called the church. You see, not only was I in pain on the day when I broke my toe, but it affected every part of my life. My morning walk was transformed into a morning hobble to the coffee pot. Our seat towards the front of the church was traded for one nearest the door. Over those six weeks, a walk on the beach or working in my garden were both definitely out. Even getting my shoes off and on was a delicate task. Slowly I learned that humility is the first step towards appreciation. Maybe there are members, not only of our body, but also of our church or our own family whom we are just taking for granted. Maybe we are overlooking their value because we haven’t slowed down enough to notice them. But we are all noticed by Jesus Christ. Let’s not wait for even one of them to be broken before we learn to treat them with respect! After all even God’s littlest toes were loved so much by Jesus that He gave not only His love and but also His life for ours!
For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Philemon 7 ESV
When we think of great leaders, there are few who compare with Alexander the Great. He became King of the small nation of Macedon at the age of 20, after the assassination of his father. At first Alexander simply consolidated power in the region of modern-day Greece. But what happened next was truly amazing. In just 12 short years Alexander went on to conquer all of the middle east, including Turkey, Iran and Iraq, along with Israel, Syria and Egypt. When at the age of thirty-two Alexander died, he left an incredible legacy of military conquest though his kingdom was soon divided between his generals.
Philemon on the other hand was a different kind of leader. Though Paul begins his letter mentioning that a church is meeting at Philemon’s house, the New Testament says very little about his position. In fact, when Paul writes to the Colossian church he does not even mention Philemon. What we do know about is Philemon’s love. Paul begins his letter by calling Philemon beloved, and then goes on to say he thanks God in his prayers because of the reports he has heard about Philemon’s love. Then we come to today’s verse and Paul tells his friend that he is comforted and joyful because of his love. While Alexander was great because of battles, Philemon was great because he refreshed the hearts of others when he shared the love of Christ. Philemon’s legacy is not the cities named after him or the statues carved in his honor, but his love for others. What greater legacy could anyone leave than that?