Our natural enemies in an imperfect world may be poverty, hunger, natural disasters and persecutors – but they are nothing in the face of love, says Reverend Vakaroto Ngaro of Cook Islands Christian church in Avarua.
The love of God is eternal.
Just as its origins are to be found in eternity past, so too its end is to be found in eternity future.
In other words, it has no end at all.
Paul writes: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 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).
There are two classes of possible “separators” in Paul’s list of the many potential threats to a Christian’s relationship to God’s love, and he denies the effectiveness of both of them.
The first class concerns our natural enemies as persons living in an imperfect and ungodly world: poverty, hunger, natural disasters and persecutors. These cannot separate.
As we read the list and think over Paul’s experiences as a minister of the gospel, we realise that these words of assurance were not said lightly. Paul had himself endured these enemies (2 Corinthians 6:5‑10; 11:24‑33).
Yet they had not separated him from the love of God, which is eternal.
Nor will they separate us if we should have to undergo such suffering.
The second class of enemies is supernatural or, as we might prefer to say, in the very nature of things.
Here Paul lists death, life, angels, demonic powers, and anything else that may be assumed to fall within this category.
Can they separate us from God’s love?
Paul answers that these cannot separate us either, for God is greater than any of them.
There is one last point. As Paul gets to the end of his statement of the everlasting and victorious character of God’s love, he reaches the high point of this epistle.
He speaks of “the love of God [which is] in Christ Jesus.”
This brings us back to the point with which we began, that of God’s love being seen at the cross.
But there is this additional thought: we must not only look to Christ in the sense of seeing the love of God displayed in him but must actually be “in him” in the sense of a personal relationship to him by faith, if we would know that love.
So the question is: Do we thus know him? Have we found the great love of God to be a love for us through faith in Christ’s sacrifice? Are we his? Is Jesus our own personal Savior and Lord?
There is no other way to know the love of God personally; therefore there is really no other way to know the love of God at all.
It must begin by our commitment to Christ. God has decreed that it is only in Christ that his great, infinite, giving, sovereign and eternal love for sinners may be known.
What Christ finished on the Cross is love in its fullness.
The Apostle John takes this subject on to another level:
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called sons of God …” (1 John 3:1)
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7, 8)