Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Christ Is Interceding For Us

When I put together this list of five word Bible bits, I was thinking particularly of bruised believers who are grasping for shards of light in the night. And I really hope and pray that these words in particular will be of comfort to those great distress.

When I think about how I've felt in my times of deepest depression, the question at the bottom of all my anxieties and sadness and angst and longing and darkness is: God, do you really love me? How could you, given all this? Or, Father, are you really on my side?

Times of darkness- whether they come from external affliction or internal distress, often make me wrestle with a truth that is often taken for granted. God loves me. But how could he!? When life feels like a series of unrelenting tribulations, or personal, unjust persecutions, or one deep distress or futile frustration after another, how can I possibly believe that God is for me? If God is Sovereign over all these desolate, shameful circumstances, how can I possibly trust that he is on my side?

It's amazing that Paul, in Romans 8 lists all these things as factors that might make us believe that we are separated from the love of God. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" (verse 35) He acknowledges the devastating circumstances the Christians he is writing to are facing:"for your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." Life is lived in the shadow of death, they endure public shame, they are considered worthless, pitiful- as sheep to be slaughtered. But Paul calls out all of these circumstances to make it explicitly clear to the believer: even in this, you are not separated from Christ's love.

And today's five words make it so clear that the love of God is not this abstract concept that floats around in space. No! It is personal. It is a love that belongs to Jesus, and is actively at work. And in Romans 8:34, Paul offers the believer three reasons for confidence that even in suffering, Jesus is on their side. "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that- who is at the right hand of God, who is interceding for us"

Firstly, Christ Jesus died. He suffered so that our suffering wouldn't be ultimate.
Secondly, Christ was raised. The Father said- yes! This Sacrifice is enough. The Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.
Thirdly, Christ Jesus is interceding for us.

This means that right now, in the seat of highest authority in the entire universe, Jesus is on our side. Right now he is actively at work in love, actively at work on our behalf. His love for us is not something expressed in the past- it's something he is currently in the process of expressing through intercession.

This intercession of Jesus, this personal commitment to us-  is the foundation on which Paul builds his big argument about how in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. The One with the authority to condemn, is the one who intercedes in love. The One who could cry out for our condemnation speaks out in love for us, prays for us, instead.

Whatever else is going on in our lives, right now- Christ is at God's right hand, praying for us, loving us. As he has loved us, at the cross- he is still loving us, still intimately attentive to our needs, still standing with us and speaking words of love for us, and working for our good in all things.

My heartfelt prayer is that any suffering believer, whatever their circumstances, might know some comfort from the glorious mystery of the active, current, unquenchable love of Christ. Sin cannot separate us from it ("Neither do I condemn you."), our lack of righteousness cannot separate us from it ("It is God who justifies.) Indeed, nothing can separate us from it.

Neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers,
nor thing present, nor things to come, 

nor powers, 
neither height, nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation (feel free to insert whatever most causes you to doubt here!) 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:37-39

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