Thursday, January 29, 2009

Romans 7-8

I spent the last 2 weeks or so reading and re-reading Romans 7, trying to latch on to something in there that I could relate to my life. There are some things I just don’t understand – all this business about being alive before the law and sin using the law but the law is still holy although it brought death? I just keep asking, why do we have the law if it brought only death and knowledge of sin? I do understand this verse (7:15):

I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate

I didn’t exercise on Monday even though I am sick on my clothes not fitting and I sleep much better when I do work out. I didn’t take the time to call my husband and tell him how thankful I am that he cleaned out the garage to make room for my car, although I was so happy all the way to work that I did not have to scrape ice of my windshield this morning.

What I DID do this week was yell at my kids and eat chocolate chips out of the bag.

Since I took too so long on chapter 7 and didn’t really say anything, I thought I’d better throw in chapter 8. BONUS!!

I have worked in a ministry for people grieving the death of loved ones for about 5 years, and I think there is no verse more often given to and misunderstood by grieving people than Romans 8:28:

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan

I know it sounds like it would bring great comfort to someone to tell them that God is working some good out of their loss, but most people don’t take it that way. They tend to think that you are telling them that the death of their loved one was “for the best” in some way, and it makes them either angry at you or at God.

In 2004, my husband’s best friend was killed in a random mugging. We were both devastated. In our moments of total honesty, the most difficult thing about it is that our faith cannot tell us that he is in heaven with God. I take Jesus at His word that “No one comes to the Father except through me.” I know that my friend was not a church-goer, not a Bible-reader, and not a professed Christian, but I still have a great hope that he is with God. I just can’t know, based on my faith. What I do know is that God is making something good out of something that is decidedly not good. I don't think God wanted my friend to die any more than I did, and that is where I can find comfort.

The Truth is that God didn’t want anyone to die, but this is the point in my winding thought trail (thanks for staying with me) where all that Romans 7 stuff started to make more sense. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Isn’t the law the “fruit” of that knowledge? [I’m not trying to say that the Garden of Eden was allegorical.] God’s plan was for us to live forever, but once we knew good and evil for ourselves, everything was turned on its head and sin and death got control. The Law is holy; God created it to order the world, but it was not God’s plan for us to ever be under the Law. It was our free-will choice to take on the knowledge of good and evil, and through that knowledge sin took over the world. Yet even in that bad turn of events, God is/was/will be working for the good of those who love Him. (Rom 8:35-39)

Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings or hunger or nakedness or danger or violent death? … But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us. Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing. Not even me?