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A sweeping victory worth celebrating

February 17, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Romans 8:31-39

31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?
33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. 34 Who is going to convict them? It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us.
35 Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
We are being put to death all day long for your sake.
    We are treated like sheep for slaughter [Psalm 44:22].
37 But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. 38 I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers 39 or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Just a reminder:
Darryl Burton serves as a Connection and Care pastor at Resurrection Leawood. Unjustly convicted of murder, he spent decades in prison, but full evidence finally acquitted him and he attended Saint Paul School of Theology. Darryl preached on February 11, and signed his new book Innocent: A Second Look, now available from The Well bookstore at Resurrection Leawood.

Inspiring stories like Pastor Burton’s remind us that seeking justice matters to all of us as God’s people (cf. Amos 5:24). They also show us the truth of today’s passage: nothing (truly, nothing!) can separate us from God’s love. When he wrote that, the apostle Paul knew all about “trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (verse 35). Those parts of life often shake our faith in God’s love. But Paul said although God allows us to face them, God never leaves us while we face them. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “Look around at the many things that threaten to separate you from the powerful love seen through the cross and resurrection, and learn that they are all beaten foes. Learn to dance and sing for joy to celebrate God’s victory. The end of Romans 8 deserves to be written in letters of fire on the living tablets of our hearts.” *

  • The compound Greek word translated “sweeping victory” was hupernikaō. “Huper” was a superlative, the origin of the English “hyper.” And the “nik” in the middle of the word came from the Greek word for “victory,” a word we know from shoes and athletic gear—“nikē”! Paul asked two compelling questions: “If God is for us, who is against us?” and “Who will separate us from Christ’s love?” He phrased both in a way that assumed the answer was “Nobody and nothing!” In what ways does that confidence shape your daily life for the better? What can help you, even on the hardest of days, to open your heart to the sweeping victory God offers you?
Prayer

All powerful God, whatever comes my way, hold me close in the shelter of your love. Thank you that, through you, I can win a sweeping victory in “all these things.” Amen.

GPS Insights

Josh Seifert

Josh Seifert

Josh Seifert is approved by the Board of Ordained Ministry to be commissioned as a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church, as of earlier this month. When he wrote this post in 2022, he served as the Resurrection Fellow while a student at Saint Paul School of Theology. In his free time, Josh enjoys discussing baseball, reading, and spending time with his wife Claire.

In a world full of noise, it is difficult to hear the whispers of God’s call and direction. In the early stages of my discernment there were times I felt cut off from God’s love and direction. Why won’t God tell me where I need to go? Is this what I am supposed to do with my life? Am I making everyone in my life proud? These thoughts made me feel as if I was cut off from God’s love, drifting through life on my own.

There may be moments in our lives when we convince ourselves we are not worthy of love. Whether that love is coming from a significant other, a family member, or a friend we instill a narrative in our lives that we do not deserve love. The individualistic nature of our society only further perpetuates this feeling of inadequacy and loneliness. By nature, we desire to love and be loved, and Paul reminds us that we are truly loved even when we feel the exact opposite.

Well, how much could God possibly love us?

God loves us so much that “He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,” and that love wasn’t limited to Paul’s Roman audience. It does not matter what we have done in our lives, what we are doing, or what we are going to do, because God’s love lives in us through the power of the Resurrection and the forgiveness of sin. Paul says, “It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised… It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us,” and there is nothing we could possibly do for Jesus to stop advocating for us.

I began my journey attempting to find God’s love on my own. By trial and error, I tore through many different meditations, contemplative practices, and Scriptures to try and experience God’s love. Little by little I felt I was inching further away from God’s love and direction. It was in those moments I felt there was a “charge against God’s elect” which was pushing me away from God. When Paul asks, “Will we be separated by trouble, or distress…” my answer at the time was “yes.”

You see, I thought my relationship with God was purely dependent on my own experiences, and I believed those experiences came from inward reflection. Now, I can reflect on those thoughts and tell you that we not only experience God through inward reflection, but we can witness the love of God through others. In the case of my discernment into ministry, I began to see the love of God through those who affirmed and supported my call into ministry. The love of God erupted out of those who helped me understand the ordination process and how to begin. I saw the love of God through congregations who made me feel heard and seen. Their support is what gave me the courage to take another step into ministry… and then another… and another. Now, I am blessed to say I am at a faith community that continually embodies the love of God and makes it their mission to share it with everyone. They inspire me to share the love of God with others and help those who feel they are unworthy of love.

When we are able to come together as one body in Christ, amazing things happen. Communities feel the healing power of God, the mission of the church reaches more of those in need, and we strengthen our relationship with God. When we are able to achieve these things “we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us,” and it is our responsibility to share that victory with others. How will you share the love of God with others? Will it be through mission? An invitation to worship? Or maybe you simply let others know they are loved by many. Regardless of how we share the love of God, the important things is that we share that love with everyone.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone, Romans Part 1: Chapters 1–8. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 159.