First Mennonite Church
July 26, 2020
We Are God’s Beloved
Text: Romans 8:18-39
Who are you? Is there something that defines who you are? Things like, being a farmer, an educator, engineer, preacher, a patient, etc.? We will come to these questions in a little bit.
Taking from Paul’s words, at the beginning of our passage, it is clear that life is not always easy, particularly for Christians. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” says Paul. Yet, the way he presents this reality is that difficulty will not reign forever. Paul sees the present in light of what the future will be: suffering now, but glory will come. This applies both to God’s children and creation as well. There is groaning, frustration, and decay now, but liberation, joy, and redemption are waiting to be ushered in. This is the hope we have been saved into. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (v. 24, 25).
During our hoping time, which is now, there is darkness, pain, suffering, uncertainty and everything that make it hard to hold onto our hope. There are times when we might find it difficult to articulate our personal feelings, and much more so the world’s condition. But here is God’s promise to us when we cannot even articulate what is in our heart: the Holy Spirit comes to our aid. The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
For someone who has to lead prayers, I tell you there are times when I am not sure what to say. There are times when I am praying that I have to remain silent. I do not know how to express to God how I had been feeling. Last week, I said that prayer is one of the most honest conversation anyone can ever have. There is no way we can pretend before God. Because of that, staying silent becomes necessary some times during prayer. We should learn when to allow the Spirit of God to take over when we are praying. Sometimes, we need to realize that we are incapable to truly articulate the complexity of life before God and it is when we should allow the Holy Spirit to help us. This requires trust. Paul had learned to trust God and that is why he could say so confidently: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God works everything for our good if we only trust him.
My dear and beloved sisters and brothers, we are living the in-between time when hoping is necessary. The promised glory, full redemption, and freedom are still ahead of us. The conditions that surround us put to test the firmness of our hope and of our trust in the one who had made these promises. The confusing and tumultuous clatter that fills the airwaves and stages try, at the same time, to tell us that there is no hope or to put our trust in it/them. The pandemic and the upheaval it has brought into every aspect of life try to pull us away from our source of hope and give us a label that does not belong to us—victims, victims of fear, anger, frustration, and hopelessness. But here is the redemption song. Here is the victory song: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So, here are the questions again: Who are you? What defines who you are? Are you a victim? Let us be reminded that we are God’s beloved in Christ! We are God’s children hoping against hope, hoping for that which we still cannot see. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Our identity is the identity the Father gave Jesus on the day of his baptism: “You are my beloved child. In you I am well pleased.”
Let us reject all labels the world and every situation try to pin on us and let us live according to our identity. We are God’s beloved. We are more than conquerors in Christ. Let us hold onto our hope, for the One who has promised this is faithful. Amen!