After church today, I happened to be talking with a friend about “love”. Then, I return home this afternoon and begin to enjoy my devotional time in the word only to realize that part of my reading plan for today also has a mention of love. In particular, Paul in Romans 8 points out the following:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your 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 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 ESV)
The cliff’s note version of this is that Paul asks a rhetorical question; who can separate us from the love of Christ? The answer is no one, and no thing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing! Not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword. Not death. Not life. Not angels or rulers. Not your past or your future. Nothing else in all creation can separate us from the love of Christ.
Here’s another way to relate to this. Jesus is the bridegroom and His church is His bride. He’s written His own vows and guess what? He intends to keep them. He will never divorce His bride. He will always love her. For better or for worse.
While that is certainly a joyous reality of which believers in Christ may lay hold, it gets kind of convicting when you acknowledge Christ’s unconditional, sacrificial, and perfect love for His bride (the church). It gets convicting because as a husband I am reminded of another verse that reads,
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV)
Now there is way too much in this small snippet from Ephesians to really dive deep right now but if we consider the command for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and if we look at the above referenced passages in Romans as an example of how Christ loves His church, there is a connection worth exploring. As a husband, my love for my wife should mimic Christ’s love for the church. That means that my wife should always feel connected to my love for her. That means that when times get tough and we experience tribulation, distress, persecution, financial hardship, health problems, or threats of any kind, I need to love my wife (and she needs to feel, know, and experience that love) as much as I did on the day I asked her to marry me. Because, here’s the deal – we will (not might) face tribulation. Just as none of these things will separate us from the love of Christ, none of this should separate or produce a barrier between me and my wife.
Even if you are feeling pretty comfortable and secure in the strength of your marriage and the ability of your love to withstand the trials of life, there may be another hidden danger that you might never suspect could create problems for you. That’s what makes it so dangerous because on the surface, most people take it as an external sign that everything in your relationship is going great. Paul references this potential pitfall in verse 38 but you may have glossed over it. Perhaps you thought it was included just for effect or for the sake of maintaining a good balance as Paul compared and contrasted things. Personally, I think we need to take heed when Paul says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, ……. will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I can understand Paul including “death” here as something that could separate us from the love of God but why would Paul think that “life” could ever separate us from the love of God?
We know that nothing (including life) can separate us from the love of God but I think it can be a big threat to keeping a husband and wife connected. There are many reasons for this but I’m feeling as though I should reserve my full commentary for another time. I try to limit my blog posts to between 500-700 words and I’ve already surpassed the upper limit. So for the sake of brevity, I will share just a couple of shoot-from-the-hip ideas of how I think “life” can cause a wife to become separated from a husband’s love.
- My life instead of Jesus’ life – the husband has not fully submitted himself to the Lord and consequently, is seeking the fulfillment of his own will instead of the Father’s will. It becomes all about “my life” instead of Jesus’ life. If the husband is not pursuing a living and dynamic relationship with the Lord, but his wife is, the distance between them grows farther and farther apart.
- My life instead of Our life – the husband is living within the marriage relationship without acknowledging that God has joined the two together as one flesh. Consequently, rather than being united to his wife by the Spirit and moving together in the same direction, with the same values and purpose, he is moving in his own direction, at his own pace, by his own plans. This causes conflict, pain, and difficulty within the relationship. Flesh tearing away from flesh is not a pleasant experience.
- Human Doing instead of Human Being – the husband allows the busyness of life and an overcrowded schedule to wear him down and to get in the way of discipling his family and serving his wife. He gets so focused on doing work, and doing activities (even good activities) that he foregoes being accessible and available to meet the heart and soul needs of his wife. You can’t schedule quality time so you need to increase the probability by increasing the quantity of time that you spend with your spouse.
- You say tomato, I say tomahto – the husband and wife are not on the same page and each has a different definition and understanding of what “life” means. In fact, if you asked each of them to draw a picture of what “life” meant to them, you would look at the final products and think they were given two separate tasks. They need to align and come to agreement on a common definition and understanding of what “life” means to them and ensure that the source of this definition is not Webster but rather, Jesus.
OK, I’m past 1,300 on the word count so I really need to stop. I’m sure if my writing approach was to actually take my time to think through this all, write, review, edit and re-write, I might be able to say the same thing in half the words. But, that’s not how I work. I continue to maintain this more as a personal journal to capture my on-the-fly, stream of consciousness thoughts. F0r this subject however, I think I will find the time (for my own benefit) to come back through and continue to expound on my thoughts and clarify them in a more clear, concise, and comprehensive manner.
Just to remind you of my original thought that I sat down to write about, Jesus loves you and there is nothing that can separate you from that love. Rest in it and enjoy it. And, once you have fully immersed yourself in that love, share it with someone else. If you are married, start with your spouse. God bless.